FARGO - Bo Boerner stands over six feet tall, but he doesn't dismiss safety when it comes to his job as a real estate agent.
Boerner said he's considered getting a handgun concealed carry permit, given the nature of the job, which regularly has lone agents showing clients properties, sometimes in remote locations.
"You can never be too careful," Boerner said Tuesday, Sept. 18, after a safety training session at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties' headquarters in south Fargo. "There's North Dakota nice, but ..."
Nearly 30 real estate professionals took part in the event.
"Safety is definitely one of our top priorities," said Jeanine Larson, a spokeswoman for BHHS.
Larson said the training is part of Realtor Safety Month.
"Even though we live in a generally safe environment ... We feel it's better to be proactive rather than reactive." Larson said.
About 38 percent of real estate professionals have been in a situation that made them feel physically unsafe, or worried about their personal data, according to a 2017 report by the National Association of Realtors. The women surveyed faced more worries about physical danger or identify theft than men, 44 percent versus 25 percent.
Of those surveyed, about five percent said they had been robbed, assaulted or had their identity stolen, the NAR survey said.
Fargo police spokeswoman Jessica Schindeldecker said open houses, vacant homes, unlocked or unsecure homes, and properties in remote locations ramp up worries for real estate workers.
That's why 57 percent of women and 52 percent of men carry some sort of defense weapon or noisemaker, the NAR reported.
Schindeldecker said if people decide to carry a weapon, they should know how to use it and practice with it, because an attack "will happen in seconds."
For example, she suggested spraying pepper spray on a garage floor to get a whiff to find out how it may affect you if you use it. And if the weapon is a firearm, train to use it in situations other than typical target shooting.
"When your adrenaline is going, you'll shoot differently," Schindeldecker said.
Firearms expert Laura Ramirez, who worked in Arizona's law enforcement and prison systems, ran down the list of weapons available for self-defense, including a combination flashlight and stun gun.
"This has 1 million volts of electricity. If it doesn't get someone's attention, I would be surprised," Ramirez said.
Ramirez, who teaches gun safety and concealed carry certification courses, urged the real estate agents to opt for flight over fight, whenever possible.
"If you can get out of a situation, that is what we recommend," she said. "
Ramirez ran through a quick briefing on the self-defense laws for Minnesota and North Dakota, as well as options for holsters and bags that can conceal a handgun.
Other safety tips include:
• Work in well-lit areas, check in with co-workers regularly, and limit personal information shared on social media.
• Work with partners at open houses if possible, plan escape routes, check all rooms for stragglers, and lock all doors when leaving.
• Don't wear valuable jewelry or watches, install tracking apps on smartphones, and consider taking self-defense classes.