Many times we find ourselves having to travel during evenings or at night. These are periods when we are most vulnerable to attack, robbery, and other types of violent crimes that catch people off guard and unaware. If there had been a small amount of preparation, then the risk of attack could have been reduced. Here are some suggestions from The Suzy Lamplugh Trust to help keep you safe when traveling at night.
**Plan ahead. Make sure you know where you are going and how to get there. If you are catching a bus or train, find out the schedule times to avoid waiting for long periods at bus stops or stations. If you are planning to take a taxi, then either book it before going out, or take the phone number of a licensed cab company with you so you can call them.
**When walking, stick to busy well-lit streets whenever possible. Avoid danger spots like quiet or badly lit alleyways, subways or isolated car parks.
**If you do have to pass danger spots, think about what you would do if you felt threatened. The best idea is to head for a public place where you know there will be other people, for example a garage, shopping center, restaurant, or bar.
**If you hear or see trouble ahead, then turn off or turn around before you get to it and head to the nearest safe place, such as a garage, police station or anywhere where there will be lots of people.
**Avoid passing stationary cars with their engines running and people sitting in them and whenever practical walk facing oncoming traffic to avoid slow cruising vehicles.
**Stay alert and keep your mind on your surroundings – remember if you are wearing headphones or chatting on a cell phone, you will not hear trouble approaching.
**If you think you are being followed, trust your instincts and take action. As confidently as you can, cross the road turning and looking to see who is behind you. If you are still being followed, keep moving. Make for a busy area and tell people what is happening.
**Try not to keep all your valuables in one place. Instead place valuables such as wallets in an inside pocket or use a money belt.
**Try to keep both hands free and don’t walk with your hands in your pockets.
**Consider carrying a personal safety alarm, which can be used to shock and disorientate an attacker giving you vital seconds to get away.
**Avoid using unlit or isolated cash machines.
**Try to walk or travel with a friend or stay near a group of people.
**Always have a cell phone, a phone card, or some spare change with you to enable you to make a phone call.
**If a vehicle pulls up suddenly alongside you, turn and run in the other direction – you can turn much faster than a car.
**Beware of someone who warns you of the danger of walking alone, or traveling after dark, and then offers to accompany you. This is a ploy some attackers have been known to use.
**Never accept a ride from a stranger or someone you don’t know very well even if you are wet, tired or running late.
Some additional, common sense advice to add to these would be:
**Be cautious if a van with sliding doors is parked next to your car in an isolated parking lot
**Check the back seat of your car for intruders before getting in
**Keep car doors locked at all times and maintain control of your keys when you are away from your vehicle.
**Avoid walking to or through parking lots alone
**Don’t hinder movements by carrying packages in your arms – use a pushcart, instead or ask for assistance from store personnel.
**If walking to your car, have your keys in your hand, ready to unlock it so you aren’t fumbling for them when you reach your vehicle.
**If you are leaving a store, as you walk toward your vehicle look for anything that might appear unusual. People lurking nearby, people sitting in vehicles around or near your vehicle, strange shadows under your vehicle, etc. If you notice something that doesn’t seem right, return to the store and ask the manager to provide you an escort to your car. Most will gladly assist you in getting safely to your vehicle.
**We all have the right to wear any clothes we wish, but we do need to consider the effect they may have on others. Make sure your dress is not something that would draw undue attention to you and possibly send a signal that you were a target for attack.
And the single most important factor is to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. By pre-identifying any areas where you should be on high alert, you may be able to avoid any circumstance before it occurs. If you see someone that looks unsavory, then trust your hunch and leave the area immediately.