Walking, jogging, and running errands after dark are common as working late and daylight savings time sap our daylight hours. Staying safe while we do these everyday tasks is a common concern for women. Be as safe as possible with these tips from safety pros, including law enforcement officers, self-defense experts, and women’s rights groups.
Stay off Your Phone, But Do Use a Personal Safety App
Women walking alone at night must stay alert and aware of their surroundings. One of the biggest distractors is the cell phone. Staying safe requires women to use all their senses to gather information about the environment. Listening for the slightest cue, watching for any odd behavior in others, even smelling something out of the ordinary can all save a life.
The first rule of walking at night for women must be to put down the phone and take out the earbuds. Use your ears to listen for signs of danger. That danger may be a vehicle careening out of control or running a red light, a bar fight spilling out onto the street, or the sound of footsteps following you. Hearing what is happening around you gives you the chance to formulate a plan of action. You may need to confront an attacker. Better to be aware and prepared than taken by surprise.
Women on their own at night can bolster their safety by installing a trustworthy personal safety app on their phones. Most good apps give women a way to quickly contact friends or family or to contact the police and summon help. If you are unable to contact 911 for some reason, personal safety apps can be helpful.
Choose Your Parking Spot Wisely
Something is needed at home, whether it is food, a prescription, or merely everyday errands to do after work. Perhaps you worked late and need to leave the office after dark. A few precautions may help you stay safer.
- Stay focused. Assess your surroundings and always have a plan of action.
- If you are leaving the office or a shopping center after dark, ask the security guard for an escort. Do not go near the vehicle if there are people around it or if you see anything underneath it.
- Have your keys in hand before leaving the building. Once you’ve reached the car, quickly check inside before entering. Make sure no one is hiding in the back seat.
- Enter your vehicle quickly, then immediately lock the doors. Keep the windows rolled up. Do not linger in the parking lot to check your phone.
- Know ahead of time what to do and where to go if you suspect someone is following you.
- Keep your car well maintained, so it doesn’t break down at night. If you must stop for gas at night, lock your doors while you fill up so no one jumps in the car.
- When running errands at night, know your route. Know the safe spots on your drives.
- Make sure to park your car near light, as parking your car in a well-lit parking lot deters would-be criminals. Avoid isolated areas.
Street Safety Tips for Women Alone Outside at Night
An air of self-confidence makes you seem like less of a victim. Predators, just like animals in the wild, sense you are not the weak one in the herd and are less likely to target you. Walk with purpose. Keep your head up, eyes forward, making eye contact with people. Even if you are small, an attitude of self-confidence gives you armor.
Often, being aware of one’s surroundings and having self-confidence will keep a woman as safe as any other technique or tool. Always be mindful of your intuition about situations. If things do not feel right, leave. Learn how to be relaxed but also alert and consciously aware of your surroundings. Take in and analyze sight, sound, smell, and other data. Be mindful of your intuition or “gut” feelings about things. After a time, this sense of awareness becomes part of who you are.
Always have a plan. Your awareness of your surroundings gives you an early warning system when anything is out of place. Practice “when/then” thinking, evaluating what you will do when the potential threat comes about. Familiarize yourself with your building, its exits, hallways, hiding spots, safe areas, and places where potential danger could hide.
Some women feel taking a self-defense class is a good idea. They learn and practice physical ways to protect themselves from attackers, and they gain self-confidence from learning they are not helpless in the face of danger. Both are valuable tools to have after dark or any time of the day.
Regardless of your reason for needing to be out at night, taking steps to be safe is essential. Common sense and a few simple steps to avoid unnecessary danger go a long way towards making night time excursions less risky. Street safety and situational awareness are excellent skills to have any time.