Parking Lot Safety at Night for Women | Ten Easy Tips
Ladies: Stay Safe in Parking Lots!
While women may be perceived to be more at risk from nighttime crimes in parking lots and out on the street, the problem is widespread, and not limited to women. Men, too, can fall under attack. However, I address this mainly to women because some habits we gals have can put us at further risk.
Here, then, are ten best ways to thwart an attacker by not even giving them the opening they need. Most such crimes are rather spur-of-the-moment actions of opportunity, rather than pre-meditated. Even if the attack was thought out beforehand, the criminal is likely to go after the easiest target. So don’t be that target!
While usually well lit, they can have their own hazards. Things to be aware of include:
- People can hide behind support pillars; try not to park right next to one
- Elevators: use alone, or with a friend, but don't get in if only a male is inside; pretend it's your floor and exit if a (male) stranger gets in
- Enclosed stairwells are a bad place to be caught alone; avoid using if possible
First of all, whenever possible, park right under or very near to a light standard. Well-lit areas are less attractive to crooks. We've all heard this before, but it bears repeating.
This applies to all areas you may park at night, not just parking lots. If you can find a parking spot under a street light, great.
Closed parking garages offer overall lighting, but also come with their own sets of things to watch out for. (See sidebar.)
Get your keys out and hold them firmly in your hand before you leave the building. Don’t be fumbling around in the dark looking for your keys in your purse.
If you have a small flashlight with you, so much the better, so you can easily see the keyhole when you get to your car. There are small ones available that fit right on your keychain.
Hold your keys with the longest one pointing out between your index and middle fingers; the rest clenched into your fist. This makes a good emergency makeshift weapon should someone grab you. Go for the face; when you are under attack is no time to worry about being careful or polite.
It's a good idea to also hold them so the remote is positioned under your thumb, so if you see a potential problem, you can hit the car's alarm button.
Common advice says to not park near other vehicles, particularly vans with side-opening doors.
This is rather useless advice, as you have no control over who parks next to you later on.
However, if there is such a vehicle on your driver’s side when you return, consider getting in on the passenger side instead.
Belt Pouches are a Good Idea
A waist pouch, belt pouch or 'fannypack' such as this is a safer alternative to a standard purse for nighttime use.
Don’t carry your purse over one arm, or dangling in your hand.
Use a bag with a shoulder strap, and carry it slung across your body, on the diagonal, so it is not easily grabbed.
Or, you can use a belt pouch type of bag that fastens around your waist. A swinging purse is an invitation to a thief or mugger.
Be observant. Before you step out of the building’s entry area, look around and see if you see anyone lurking about acting suspiciously.
If you see such activity, immediately go back inside, and ask for a security person to escort you to your vehicle.
Walk with your head held high, and continually scan the area as you are walking. Crooks love people who are not paying attention.
Notice that as you approach your vehicle, the parking lot lighting causes the windows to act as mirrored surfaces.
You can see your own reflection.
Use that to your advantage, to look over your shoulder without turning around, to see if anyone is nearby or approaching your location.
As soon as you get into your car, lock the door.
This is the first thing you should do, before even starting the engine.
Don’t sit there fiddling with things or yakking on the phone!
Start your engine right away, before you even fasten your seatbelt. That way, if someone does approach, looking as if they might try to break a window, you are able to step on it and peel out, leaving them spinning where they stand.
If no one is around, then go ahead and fasten your seatbelt before pulling out.
Take a self-defense class! This is the number one way to feel safe, confident and strong when you are alone at night (or in the daytime).
I encourage this for all women and girls. It builds strength, discipline, self-confidence and is a vital thing to know, not only in case of muggers, but also bullies.
Here, I'm not talking about a 'quickie' self-defense course at a parks and recreational facility for a few weeks; I'm talking about enrolling in an actual self defense school, and making it an ongoing study. Whether you decide on karate, judo, ju-jitsu, or some other form of martial arts, it is important enough that it could save your life or that of a loved one someday.
(Lest you think you could not perform any self-defense moves, please have a look at the video below. I think you'll find you are mistaken!)
Martial Arts are Adaptable for ALL Abilities
I hope you’ve found some useful tips here, and I hope you stay safe always.