Maybe you stayed out late for dinner with a friend, or perhaps you had to finish that last bit of paperwork at your office and now you’re rushing to get home. It’s dark and quiet and all you really want to do is get inside your house – but wait, what’s that guy doing hanging around your car? Or the parking lot is empty and your car is parked right at the very edge of the lot away from the streetlights.
Personal safety is a concern for everyone these days with the increasing number of physical assaults and carjackings. But a few safety tips can help you avoid these situations and get you home safe and sound!
The first and most obvious tip is to be aware of your surroundings. It may sound simplistic, but many women are caught unaware while standing at their car fumbling for a set of keys inside their purse or ignoring that group of men who have been loitering around the front door of your building much longer than they should. If at all possible park your car as close to the front door as you can and under a street light or some other form of illumination.
Look around you at all times while making your way to your car – don’t stick your head in a book or put your headphones while navigating to the safety of your automobile. Be aware of where you are and who’s around you at all times. Even if you’ve walked up this street to your car a hundred times, keep a sharp eye out for anyone suspicious or anything out of place. Your life may depend on how you react to a situation and being aware of it beforehand can help you either avoid it or resolve it in your favor. Too often a thief will take advantage of your single-mindedness, keeping to the shadows while you trudge on with little concern as to what’s happening around you.
Keep your keys in your hand while approaching your front door of either your house or your car; the edges of the keys sticking out between your fingers. This way you can get into your car without spending unnecessary time searching for the right key in your purse and if need be turn them into a weapon. If you are attacked, jab the edges of the keys into your assailant wherever you can hit and then run as fast as you can, yelling and screaming as loudly as you can. Mace and/or pepper spray can be a help and a hinderance here, as your attacker can just as easily turn the weapon back on you and force you into your own car as you choke on the spray. Car keys, while usually nonlethal, can provide the surprise that you need to escape the situation. And if you do want to carry mace or pepper spray, be sure to check the law for your area.
If you are attacked and don’t have any way of fighting back, kick and bite and pinch any piece of your attacker that you can reach. It may not seem pretty, but often the “dirty” tactics we were disciplined for in our youth may often provide that opening for escape.
So you’ve broken free from the criminal and are now yelling for help – but no one reacts. It’s a sad statement in our society that we have learnt to tune out pleas for help for the most part, placing them in the same category as the shrill tones of the car alarm that you may or may not have set off with your assault. But instead of yelling for help, yell “Fire!” and see how much better a reaction you get from concerned neighbors. Most criminals will think twice before pursuing a woman who’s getting the public’s attention.
If your assailant has a weapon, then please consider your options before acting. Many professionals will advise you to go with the attacker while others will encourage you to attack immediately. Unfortunately, no one can make this final decision on your personal safety other than yourself. If you can escape safely, then do so – but you have to weigh the situation and decide if it’s worth fighting a man with a knife or a gun or to go along with him for the time being.
Many buildings have security officers that will gladly walk you to the safety of your vehicle if asked. Take advantage of your friends to ask for an escort or for one of them to bring your car closer to the front door. Another idea is to form a club of women who leave at the same time as you do – you can escort each woman as a group to her car and then each drive along to the next one, dropping one off at a time. It may take a bit longer to get to your car, but you’ll feel the safety in numbers.
When you do get to your car safely and unlock the door be sure to look inside the car before getting in and closing the door. Glance in the back seat and make sure that everything is as you left it; nothing is out of place. Once you’re sure the car is safe, lock yourself in and make sure all the doors are secure before turning the engine on and proceeding on your trip.
Car safety at night is easy and takes only a few minutes out of your day. Why not consider some of these tips and implementing them in your office?