I’m sure I speak for most young women when I say that walking through a parking building always puts me on edge. I have seen too many movies and heard too many stories about girls who have been assaulted, heckled, or taken in parking buildings to ever feel safe walking alone in one. For the most part, I avoid parking in them when alone, but sometimes it is inevitable. In those cases, I make sure that I am doing all I can to keep myself safe from any harm. Here are my ten tips to stay alert and safe when walking through a parking building alone.
1) Do not text
As a strong, empowered, and busy young woman, I’m sure you try to make the most of your time and rely on the value of multitasking to get everything done. Despite the desire to multitask, walking from a parking building to your destination is not the time to be engulfed in another task. When you have your head down and attention focused in a conversation on your screen, it is likely you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings. Besides the obvious danger of being hit by a car, this lack of attention means you’re more vulnerable to other threats.
2) Don’t talk on the phone
I have seen several people suggest talking on the phone with someone you trust while walking through a dangerous area. That can be just as dangerous as texting. While it might ease your mind when walking alone, it still leaves you vulnerable and distracted. When you are on your phone, it leaves you with only one free hand. This means you might have to stand there and scramble for your keys, or fuss with something that requires both hands. This lack of attention lowers your guard and makes you an easy target.
3) Utilize your phone apps
Texting and talking on the phone can be dangerous, but there is actually a way to use your phone to your advantage. There are multiple apps out there that revolve around personal safety, created especially for situations like walking alone.
The one I have on my phone is called SafeTrek. It’s extremely simple to use, and requires no voice activation. If you are feeling threatened, all you have to do is open the app. Press down on the large shield button in the middle of the screen until you feel safe. When you have arrived at your destination you can release the button and type in your 4 digit pin. This cancels the alarm. If you are in danger, simply release the button and do not type in your pin. Within ten seconds your information and location will be shared with the closest police station. This is a safe and reliable way to use your phone as a way to keep you safe as it operates 24 hours every day.
4) Be organized before you get out of the car
Get organized before you get out of the car, or right before you leave a building to go back to your car. Make sure you can pull out your keys, phone, wallet, or whatever else you may need at a moment’s notice.
5) Know your city’s parking buildings
If you have to park in a parking garage, it’s always best to know which ones are safest and which ones to avoid. Use common sense and choose a building that’s not too far out of the way and seems brightly lit and frequented often.
6) Take the path of least resistance
Ensure you are confident in each exit’s location. Plan a path to walk straight from your car to the nearest exit. While this might not always be possible, simply make sure you are taking the most efficient route in and out of the parking building. This will help to avoid disorientation that could cause you to be distracted.
7) Choose a spot close to the entrance
Parking buildings can be packed, but try to get a spot as close as possible to the first floor. This will eliminate having to walk further, or have to take a sketchy stairway or elevator. If you have to park at the very top or far away from the entrance, try to at least get a spot with other cars around it.
8) Find someone to walk back with you
If you’re walking back from your office, see if one of your coworkers or anyone else parked near you will walk back with you. My rule of thumb for nighttime is to always use the buddy system. Never think that asking is an imposition, safety always comes first. However, if you are not in a situation where this is possible, the next best thing would be to use an app like SafeTrek.