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Street Smarts: How to Protect Yourself When Walking

The optimist in all of us likes to think that the world is getting safer all the time. But the realist tells us that walking alone on the street—especially as a woman carrying a purse—can still be a dangerous thing to do. And if you find yourself in a neighborhood that you don’t know particularly well, you need to be especially vigilant about staying safe until you arrive at home.

You can take a few easy steps to minimize your risk when walking on the street, whether it’s at night or any other time. Here are some tips:

Tip No. 1: Be quick and confident

If you move swiftly, with a look on your face that exudes strength and confidence, then you’re less likely to be a mark for a potential mugger than someone who looks scared, slow, or unsure of herself.

Tip No. 2: Lose the ear buds

It might make the walk feel like it’s going faster, but if you don’t feel comfortable or safe with your surroundings, using your iPod or other MP3 player is only going to make things worse. You need to hear what is going on around you, so you can make better decisions for your safety.

Tip No. 3: Have a buddy

If you know that you need to walk in a strange or dark neighborhood, ask a friend to go with you. Two people together are a less desirable target than one person, especially a woman walking alone, so buddy up whenever possible.

Tip No. 4: Stay on the main drag

Another good way to avoid problems is to plot out your course beforehand with someone who knows the area. That way, you can stick to large, well-lit streets with lots of traffic and people around, as opposed to dark back streets that may be more dangerous.

Tip No. 5: Test the person

If you think you’re being followed, try crossing the street. If the person crosses the street behind you, then it’s time to be more aware of possible danger and seek a way out or some help.

Tip No. 6: Don’t be afraid to run...

At this point, if you are close to a store or another place where people are gathered, go ahead and run there. Feeling a little embarrassed afterward is a lot better than getting robbed or worse because you didn’t want to look silly.

Tip No. 7: …Or yell!

If you feel like you are in danger, yell out! This will draw attention to you, and it will likely scare your attacker off or at least get people to come to your aid.

Tip No. 8: Just let it go

If an attacker grabs your purse, bag, or another valuable that you are carrying, just let him have it. Fighting back is a good way to get hurt or even killed. And while everything you are carrying in your bag can be replaced, you cannot. So just let it go, and then move away from the attacker as quickly as possible once he has possession of your items. Then go to the nearest store or police station to call for help.