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Last Updated on September 29, 2022 by Diane Hoffmaster
Many women in the US are afraid to walk alone at night. The fact is that no one can predict whether it's safe for you to go out on your own at night. No matter how many precautions you take, you could still run into trouble if something goes wrong. Hopefully, these safety tips for walking at night will keep your or your loved one safe.
While there isn't an app or gadget that will guarantee your safety, there are some ways to make sure you're taking all the right steps towards staying safe when walking home late at night by yourself (or exercising after dark). Let us help with these personal safety tips!
Is it safe to walk alone at night?
With the start of the new year, many people are committing to getting more exercise to improve their health.
Walking is great exercise but the short, winter days mean that you may be walking alone at night in dark areas. Is it safe to walk alone at night? Well, that depends on where you are walking.
It's important to take extra caution, even if you think you live in a safe neighborhood.
As a woman walking alone, I know that I am more vulnerable to attack than a man. Even if I don't encounter a suspicious person, there are many other dangers out there that I need to protect myself from.
Since I am doing a lot more walking now that the holidays are over, I thought I would share a few of these safety tips with you.
Don't let fear hold you back from getting some exercise in winter, even if it is cold and dark!
Safety Tips for Walking at Night
Women walking alone need to remember these safety rules if they plan on enjoying nighttime walking. Don't make yourself an easy target for criminals!
Keep your hands free
Whether you are exercising or just walking to your car after a late-night Target run, you need to be ready to protect yourself.
Put your mobile phone in your pocket and your eyes on your surroundings. If you want to listen to music, keep one earbud out so you can hear things going on around you.
Don't make yourself a target for people looking to harm someone. That means you need to avoid distractions and stay off your cell phone whenever possible.
If you are talking to a family member while you walk home as an added safety feature, keep your conversation hands-free if possible in case a dangerous situation requires you to defend yourself.
Plan your route
There are certain parks around here that have trails that wind back into the woods. I avoid those unpopulated trails when I am alone.
If you are walking at night, don't go somewhere that doesn't have a lot of people. Stick to the main road rather than taking unpopulated side streets.
Don't make it easy for someone to find you all by yourself. You don't want to find yourself in a worst-case scenario type of situation completely alone.
Bring a friend
This goes along with the tip above about not being alone. Walking is way more fun with a buddy.
Encourage your significant other to join you. Join a walking club if you don't have anyone that you can enlist.
There is safety in numbers and people who have a workout buddy are usually more successful when it comes to maintaining their exercise routine.
Choose well-lit paths with other walkers if at all possible to help you feel safe.
Be car smart
Cars can't see humans walking on the side of the road at night. Make sure you wear reflective clothing and walk facing traffic so you can see them coming.
If you see a car coming, move over as much as you can just in case they don't see you.
Take a self-defense class
My daughter and I have taken two self-defense classes together and while I'm not sure how much it would help, the main thing that they taught us was to be LOUD and FIGHT BACK.
They taught us a few easy moves to escape if someone grabbed us and give us enough time to run. You aren't looking for a full-on martial arts class. The goal of a self-defense class is to escape.
Arm yourself for safety
Okay, I'm not talking about carrying a gun in the small of your back. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of guns but to each their own.
There ARE, however, a few things you can bring with you that will protect you while walking at night. Here are just a few things you might want to purchase to protect yourself.
- Walking whistle Buy yourself a stainless steel whistle and carry it around your neck or wrist. If you feel threatened, blow as loud as you can.
- Protection flashlight My husband bought me one of these for Christmas. It is a flashlight with a stun gun on the other end. The flashlight end has ridges that will hurt if you jab someone with them. The body is metal and relatively heavy-duty and it is rechargeable. This rechargeable stun gun flashlight will help keep you safe.
- Reflective tape Reflective tape allows cars to see you better so they don't squash you like a bug. Put some on your jacket or invest in a cheap ball cap that you can add it to.
Of course, pepper spray is also a good way to protect yourself from a potential attacker. However, you have to have it in hand at just the right moment for it to be effective.
When you head into parking lots at night or need to walk through poorly lit areas, keep your pepper spray in hand and ready to use.
It's not always possible to stick to well-lit areas so be ready and aware of suspicious people in your immediate area.
Dress for comfort, not fashion
When you head out for your walk, wear comfortable shoes and walking clothes. Even if you went to work in high heels and a skirt, put on sneakers before you head home.
Put the police on speed dial
Many cell phones have an emergency button that shows on the home screen even when locked. It is a panic button of sorts.
I recently reviewed the WearSafe app and it comes with a small wearable device that you can hang from your jacket zipper to push in an emergency. While I like to think that I won't ever need it, the reality is that someday I MIGHT.
Body Language Matters
Women walking alone in dark areas, whether for exercise or just to walk home after work, presents a risk. The number of violent crimes against women frankly scares me, especially as the mom of a college-age daughter.
Walking alone at night? Walk with confidence, your head held high, and make eye contact with those around you. A self-defense class and pepper spray not only provide protection but also provide confidence. Walk with purpose and don't wander aimlessly.
Be smart. Wear comfortable walking shoes, reflective tape, and stay away from dark patches in sketchy areas. Stick to a well-lit area when parking your car. At your local fast food restaurant, park right under the street lamp.
Walking is great exercise but it only makes sense to be as safe as you can while you work out. I hope these safety tips for walking at night help keep you out of dangerous situations while you strive to reach your healthy living goals!
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.