Mom, you may not want to read this.
In college I took a self-defense class. We were taught how to be safe when walking across campus alone; and how to defend ourselves against an attacker. Funny, it was the most valuable thing I learned at that college.
Today, I live in suburbia. I feel “safe” in my little bubble with the nice walking/biking trails. I had just came home from my morning walk and was in the shower. Between the shampoo and conditioner, I got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. You know, the kind that says, “What if?”
And, I realized I just broke 2 rules of being safe.
Number 1: Be aware of your surroundings. I was aware and looking around while I was walking, but when I came home I didn’t bother to look around to see if anyone may have followed me up the street. I just walked right inside the house. I also left the dogs outside, which would have acted as an alarm if an intruder tried to attack.
Number 2: Wear identification at all times. Although I was carrying my cell phone, I didn’t have ID on me.
If you walk or jog alone, here is a run down of a few more rules that shouldn’t be broken.
Number 3: Plan where you are going to walk or jog, then tell someone where you are going and when you are expected back. At the very least my hubby knows my general routes.
Number 4: Carry a cell phone and keys.
Number 5: Don’t wear jewelry or carry cash.
Number 6: Stay alert. Don’t wear earbuds or a headset. These could inhibit your ability to hear an approaching car or attacker. Instead, concentrate on the fresh air, nature, or play mind games, i.e. memorize license plates, or count your steps. Or, as I do, use the time to just clear your head.
Number 7: Exercise in familiar areas. Avoid unpopulated areas, dimly lit areas, ungroomed trails, or deserted streets. Walk or jog with purpose. Keep your head up. Look and act confident and aware.
Number 8: Ignore verbal harassment. Be observant of strangers approaching you from the opposite direction and make eye contact, but keep your distance. Use your gut instinct when acknowledging strangers. If you choose to help someone who ask you for directions, stay a full arms length or more away. Error on the side of caution. Never feel silly for protecting your safety. Trust your gut!
Number 9: If you think you are being followed, change your direction. Look for an open business or a house that looks like someone is home. Ask for help. Call police immediately if something happens to you or another person on your route. Report anything out of the ordinary on your route. Alter your route if you see someone or something suspicious.
Number 10: Walk/run against traffic. If you exercise at night, wear reflective clothing.
Number 11: If someone does attack you on your walk? I learned this one in my self-defense class: Use your keys. Lace them through your fingers, kind of like Edward Scissor Hands. Then slash at his face. (I always have my keys laced through my fingers when I am walking alone to my car in a parking garage or in a parking lot at night.) Find more great self-defense tips here.
Number 12: If you can, walk with your dog. No matter how small, a dog would make a lot of noise if you are threatened. This is the biggest reason I want to get Thor under control with his walking. Only a crazy person would mess with me if I have this big bad black lab by my side!
Remember, most people will never be attacked when walking alone, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of these safety tips. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Stay alert. Be aware. Be prepared.