Here are some basic rules to keeping yourself safe while you’re walking home at night.
1.) Walk with a friend or a group of people. Attackers are less likely to do anything if there is more than one person present.
2.) Project confidence.
Violent criminals prey on those who look weak and vulnerable. Know where you’re going, and how you’re getting there. Don’t look lost, even if you are lost, project confidence that you can handle yourself and that you know the streets you’re taking. If this isn’t possible, take the T, or catch a cab. Having to pay a little extra to get wherever you’re going is worth it when you know you’ll arive safe and sound.
3.) Avoid dark areas.
Crooks like to keep themselves hidden, so you and the police can’t see them when they attack. When you decide to take the dark ally as a shortcut, no one will see you if something should happen and no help will come running. Take the extra long route home and get your exercise! It’s safer that way.
4.) Wear sensible shoes.
Should someone try to attack you at night, wearing sneakers, or even ballet flats, can help you outrun the criminal more than fashionable heels. Wearing heels slows you down dramatically, keeps you off balance, and makes it easier for you to fall and twist your ankle. Ballet flats are easy to throw into a tiny purse, so if you can’t carry a good pair of sneakers, at least make sure you always have a pair of ballet flats with you. Plus, at the end of your night out, your feet and the rest of your body will thank you for taking off those painful heels!
5.) Be aware of your surroundings.
Be confident. But don’t be so over confident that you put your headphones on and tune out the world. This lets an attacker sneak up behind you when you’re distracted and not paying any attention, leaving you open to attack. If you just have to have your music on while you walk, keep the volume down as low as you can and be constantly aware of where you are, and who’s near you. Keep an eye on other pedestrians, but also notice cars too. It’s not hard to miss a car turning while you’re trying to cross the street. If the driver isn’t paying attention, or doesn’t have enough time to stop, you could get hit.
6.) Keep your cell phone charged.
Talking on your cell phone is another distraction. It shows attackers you’re not paying attention to your surroundings, and shows off what type of expensive gadgets you carry on you. Don’t show off something you don’t want stolen. It will open you up to attack that much more than if you don’t have that super new iPhone in use. This is also true at busy T stations. Transit Police are always warning passengers not to wear headphones, or show off their gadgets by using them. Busy station, or empty station. If it’s a busy place, the crook can easily disappear into the crowd, and if it’s an empty station, there’s no one to help you should you get hurt. That being said, if someone wants your device, remember, it’s not worth getting hurt over, or even killed. Let them have it. You can always call your cell phone provider when you get home and cancel your service. You getting home alive and well is the important thing.
That being said, keep your cell phone charged and ready should something happen. That way you’ll be able to call for help right away. And if you do need to call for help, the first number you should dial is 911. Don’t call your parents, or your best friend. If you’re hurt, or you’ve just had your iPod stolen from you, call the police first.
7.) Carry a deterrent.
Carry a flashlight with you, especially if you know you’ll be out at night a lot. At the very least, a penlight that attaches to your keychain is best for lighting up the path in front of you, showing the face of a would-be attacker, and helping you get a house key or a car key into a lock faster than fumbling in the dark. Would-be attackers want to stay in the dark, so that you cannot identify them later on. If you shine a flashlight into their face, you’re more likely to get a better description of them, which is not something they want. It also shows you have confidence. The longer you fumble with a key at the door, the more opportunities you’re giving an attacker to hurt you, or get into your house. And if you carry a larger flashlight, if you need it, it can become a way to defend yourself.
8.) Crosswalks were invented for a reason.
Always use the crosswalk, and always wait until the signal says it’s okay for you to cross. Crossing against the light, or out of a crosswalk is the fastest and surest way to getting hit by a car. Drivers aren’t looking for pedestrians outside of the crosswalk, because you shouldn’t be there. When they have the greenlight, they’re not looking to slow down when they approach a crosswalk. And remember, not every driver believes in red lights either. When you are crossing the street, look both ways, even when you do have the light to walk. You never know when some dark car is going to come speeding along at night without its lights on. In a city it’s very easy to forget to turn your headlights on. What it comes down to again, is always knowing your surroundings.
Top phone numbers to have stashed in your pocket or on your phone’s memory:
MBTA Transit Police Emergency Line: 617 – 222 – 1212
MBTA Lost and Found: 617 – 222 – 3200 (8:30 AM – 5:00 PM Mon-Fri)
*Pieces of this post are from The Graveyard Shift blog kept up by retired police officer, Lee Lofland.