Canvasser Safety by Ben Hoise

By at September 3, 2013 | 11:47 am | Print

Canvasser Safety by Ben Hoise

Ben Hoise

Anyway you cut it, canvassing can be dangerous, as it requires that you approach strangers in what is often unfamiliar terrain. There are also two very prominent dangers to the canvasser, namely loose dogs and confrontational people. Below is a short list of suggestions to protect you and your canvassers while knocking on doors.

1) The most effective way to ensure your safety when canvassing is to simply stay aware.  If you are vigilant you can often spot loose dogs or a car that is driving too fast miles down the road. Thus, recognize the potential for danger and proceed with caution.

2) Do not argue. On occasion you will accidentally knock on a person’s door who is unreceptive to your message.  This can get worse if, for instance, you run into someone who is intoxicated and having a bad day. When you encounter someone who is combative, simply end the conversation and go canvass another part of your turf.

3) Rattle gates before entering a yard and be on the lookout for dogs.  Assume every mid- to large-sized dog is a potential danger unless specifically told otherwise by the dog’s owner.

4) Worst case scenario, if you do find yourself being chased by a loose, aggressive dog, don’t try to outrun it. Just find the nearest spot to get away and regroup. Try to pull yourself up into a tree, jump over a wall or fence, or if necessary, into the bed of a nearby pickup truck.  When being chased by a dog, it’s definitely better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

5) Never go inside a house, even when invited. Always stay on the doorstep.

6) Trust your gut and don’t knock on a door or enter a yard you feel uneasy about.

7) Canvassers should always carry a cell phone with them.

8) Only the essentials should be taken with you when canvassing. Leave any valuables in your car or hidden from sight.

9) And last but certainly not least, it’s always a best practice to go canvassing in pairs and have each individual canvass opposite sides of the street. There will be times when this is not an option, but it should be the goal, particularly for any new canvassers.

Ben Hoise, Production Assistant,The Campaign Workshop; a full-service political consulting firm that specializes in direct mail, print and online advertising for issue advocacy, candidate and ballot initiative campaigns.  During the 2010 election cycle, Ben worked as a Field Organizer with Organizing for America in Kokomo, Indiana.

 The Campaign Workshop            1129 20th Street, NW Suite 200                 Washington, DC 20036 (202)223-8884

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