January is National Crime Stoppers Month. Fortunately, you can stop most crime from ever befalling you by keeping one thing in mind at all times, especially if you’re alone on the streets, especially if you’re female: YOUR SAFETY! No matter how many times you have may strolled the same old streets at any time of day and night, no matter how familiar it may seem to you, stay aware and follow a few simple guidelines.
Luckily, the type of weather we’re enduring currently in Chicago (temperatures in the single digits with wind chills below zero, which by the way was even more the topic of conversation today than the upcoming Bears playoffs game) is a deterrent to street crime. No one (including criminals) wants to hang out in this cold!
Nevertheless, here are a few things to consider out there on the streets of the city:
We’re still in the season of short days and long nights, so it’s dark when the workday ends. Obviously crime happens more often in the dark than in broad daylight, so stay vigilant from your office to wherever you’re headed.
You may have a hood on your head and be lunging head-down into the wind or snow, which tends to block your peripheral vision. Look up and around often to see who’s nearby you. Of course this is also important for traffic safety reasons.
Ear muffs and snug hats can muffle noise, including someone walking too close to you. Again, stay aware of your immediate surroundings; glance around often.
Even in the city, unless the streets are extra crowded, it’s an invasion of your personal space if someone is walking right on your heels. Don’t be too timid to turn around and shoot a dirty look, use eye contact; your glare should be clearly perceived and the offender should back off. He or she could be completely innocent, or might be a would-be thief moving in for the take. Better to look like a meanie yourself than be taken advantage of by one.
Taking well-populated pedways, where one often encounters police on foot and plenty of cameras, and cutting through busy buildings where there’s a prominent security guard should put a wanna-be mugger off your path. If you feel you’re being stalked, never be embarrassed or too proud to mention this to a security guard. It’s better to ask for assistance than expose yourself to danger; the security guard will glad to help.
One thing important about safety is to always give yourself plenty of room to maneuver if need be. It’s wise to cross the street if there’s a questionable individual looming ahead or if you think you’re being followed — and hopefully it won’t ever be necessary to have to actually run away from somebody, but stay sharp and plan your route nonetheless.
In the winter, there are slippery spots on the streets and sidewalks. Not every business removes the snow or ice on adjacent sidewalks as would be ideal. And sometimes after a big snowfall, snow can be piled high on the sides of the streets for weeks until it melts. Keep all this in mind when planning your path, in case you wish to change course to avoid a suspicious character. Remember to wear slip-free footgear.
Better yet, this is a good time of year to hail a taxi instead of walking in a potentially dangerous situation. Break down and take a cab: door-to-door service makes you feel worlds safer!
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