I truly love living alone. But, I have to admit that I continually have a heightened sense of awareness. Even after a year, I still am always conscious of my own safety. And I think that’s not a bad thing. A single girl, or any girl really, should be cautious and have a plan to protect herself. Here’s what I have done to make myself feel more safe in my home, and in my neighborhood.
Be aware of your home and neighborhood
The neighborhood I live in is not the safest. My area is cute and family-oriented, but just a few blocks away is a high-crime area. My car has been broken into twice, and my outbuilding and fence has been tagged with graffiti. The one thing I have in my favor is that I’m on a corner lot, with a street light nearby. But, I’ve done a few things to make it safer:
Lighting. I installed motion-sensor flood lights on my outbuilding, and along the alley that lines it. Hooking it up is not too tough, and even the neighbors have thanked me for it. My back door has a motion-sensor light also, as the back door is hidden from the street. I don’t have a motion light on my front door, but the light is always on. And I’ve added solar lights on the path leading up to my front door. Having a well-lit outside makes an intruder think twice.
Deadbolts and locks. When you move into any place – apartment or home – change the locks. If an apartment, check with the landlord to be sure the locks were changed. If a home or condo, you can do this on your own. It is not hard at all – the locks will come with instructions, and you can find tips online. When you buy a deadbolt, be sure to get one that is “bump-proof”. Bumping is a trick of thieves that allows them to get past deadbolts.
Security System signs and decals. I haven’t actually done this yet, but I have considered it. On many online sites (like Amazon), you can find fake window stickers and yard stakes for security systems. Sure, this is a fairly well-known trick, but thieves aren’t going to risk it either. If they think you may have a security system, they’ll stay away.
The fact is, a woman is nearly always weaker than a male attacker. While your goal is always to get away, that’s not always a possibility. Invest in tools to defend yourself.
Pepper Spray. This is an easy must. I have a canister of pepper spray next to my bed that is easily accessible. I also have a small bottle that is on an elastic band for when I go running. Pepper spray is a quick deterrent that gives you the time to run away.
Knives/Clubs. This is a little harder. It is easy for an attacker to get a club or bat away from you and use it against you. I personally don’t have any. I do, however, have a switchblade. I keep it in my pocket when I go running. If someone comes up behind me, and gets too close, it will be difficult to use the pepper spray. But a switchblade will be unexpected and will maybe give them enough of a surprise for me to get away.
Self Defense Classes. Many local communities offer free or cheap self defense classes. Martial arts schools will as well. They will teach you simple tricks for getting out of holds that will allow you to get away and run.
A gun. I don’t take this lightly. I know for some women, purchasing a gun is not an option, for moral or other reasons. But for me, this was something I wanted to do. If you do buy a gun, do your research first. I went to the local gun range a couple of times before I even considered purchasing a gun. I tried a lot of different guns, different calibers, models, etc. to determine what I felt the most comfortable with. Then, I got some help and advice from a friend who knows considerably more than I do. You can also talk to the guys at your local gun range, who should be able to help you. One big note here: Make sure you know your local laws before buying a gun. In the coming weeks, I’ll post a follow-up of the considerations you may need to make before you take the plunge and purchase a gun.
Think through your plan in different situations
It may be paranoia, but I frequently think of how I would react in certain situations. If I were in bed, and someone broke into my room, how would I react? How do I reach for my pepper spray? Is it in a location I can get to easily? How would I get my gun that is under the bed? When I’m out running, what will I do if someone approaches me? From behind? How close do they get, and how threatening are they before I chose to spray them with the pepper spray? If they’ve got their arm around my neck, how do I reach for my knife and where do I stab first? Sure, this all sounds a little paranoid, but by thinking through these scenarios, if it actually happens to you, you will be able to just react, and not be frozen with shock.
What are some tricks you’ve learned? Any ideas you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your comments below! And stay tuned – in the next couple of weeks, I’ll post the follow up on gun safety.