Walking the Neighbourhood

Safety when Walking the Neighbourhood

You may have watched a few animal documentaries and have noticed how some animals behave. In the case of predator vs prey, they’ll most typically attack another creature if they look vulnerable. Lions go after younger, sicker, or older prey because they’re easier to catch. The same also applies to humans. Criminals will go after a person who looks vulnerable be it they look physically weaker or that they’d be easy to catch off guard.

You don’t have to be an FBI Agent to develop situational awareness. Practicing awareness of your environment goes a long way in keeping you from appearing like an easy target. When you’re out and about, look alert, look sharp. The less vulnerable you look, the less likely someone is going to mess with you.

If and when walking by yourself, get off your cell phone, look up and take note of your surroundings. Talking on your mobile device or listening to music on your headphones makes you easy prey for a predator. The only reason you should be using your mobile phone is to notify a friend of your whereabouts or to call for help. Hold your cell phone and be ready to make an emergency call. Preset one of the buttons on your phone to call the local emergency number.

Keep your eyes and ears open as well as your hands-free. Some may think being on the phone chatting means that the person on the other end can call for help if need be. The chances of this happening and working are slim. Rather be aware and focussed on your surroundings.

Look at and watch everyone that approaches you or those in your immediate vicinity. Do not be afraid to make eye contact.

Eye contact may scare off potential attackers. They fear you’d be able to identify them. It may be normal for you to lower your gaze as you walk to your destination, however, looking straight at the face of potential attackers is the better option. It shows 'them' you are ready and you are prepared. Who doesn't want a head start on a running race? The same applies here.

Observe the behaviour of people in the street or in your immediate surroundings. Look out for the hands of people nearby or as they approach you. A clenched fist or a shifty hand is a give away that something is wrong. Next, you may have identified someone suspicious. Look to check that that person is not trying to conceal a weapon. A person with bad intentions trying to conceal a weapon from view will often check by patting the area of the body where the item is hidden to make sure it is still hidden from view or that it is not misplaced.

Another giveaway in terms of behaviour is a person trying too hard to act normal while walking. The human body always reveals intentions and does even more so as someone tries to conceal it.

Besides being aware of people around your immediate environment, here are a few more tips to take note of when walking the neighbourhood.

Get to know your neighbours and make friends with them so you can look out for each other. As you move through your neighbourhood or any other, be aware of your exit points and options just encase you spot a potential threat. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the area from buildings, landmarks through to the alleyways and cul-de-sacs. Identify and avoid areas that can be dark and empty at certain hours.

Regularly change your walking routine. Plan out a few different routes that you can take and mark out "safe houses" (those neighbours you’ve made friends with) in your mind at intervals along the way. In the event of attacks, you can stop at these shops or homes where you know you will be safe. Try to incorporate these houses every time you vary your route

Criminals most often play on the sympathies of unsuspecting women to lure them into dangerous situations. If someone asks for the time, directions, or help in or around their car, be as courteous as possible but keep moving. You can always assist the stranger by making a phone call to police from a safe location, or by finding others to go back and help you.

If you spot a potential threat and have that uneasy feeling, do not hesitate. Act upon it and make your getaway. Rather be safe than sorry.  Don’t be paranoid, just mindful.