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When you're outdoors by yourself

Going for a walk, bike ride, or run outside should be a time to enjoy the outdoors and your workout routine. But when you're alone, you may look like an easier target. Here are some tips to keep you safe and confident when you're heading outside by yourself.

  • Stick to well populated, busy areas. Avoid hidden trails, short cuts through secluded areas or lanes that are not well travelled. Stay where there is traffic and other people on foot.
  • Stay in well-lit areas. Avoid dark parking lots, dark alleys, dark lanes, dark trails, or dark anything. A well-lit path in a well-populated area is your safest route to any destination, even if it takes a bit longer.
  • If you are out at night, wear reflective clothing so drivers can see you.
  • Important: Do not shut yourself off from the rest of the world. Headphones cut you off from your surroundings and make it very easy for an attacker to sneak up on you.
  • Take a cell phone. Carry a cell phone to have handy for 911 and other minor emergencies. Do not be distracted by making and taking calls, text, or social media posts. It is okay to call someone before you leave and talk with him or her to give him or her the play-by-play until you are safe. This ensures you have someone “with” you if something happens who knows where you are
  • Let others know. Always leave notice of where you are going and when you are expected to return with a household member or friend who can check on you.
  • Keep your head up and look confident. Your posture can make all the difference in how you are perceived by a potential attacker. If you are looking down, seem distracted or look afraid you are more likely to become a target.
  • Almost home? Have keys ready in your hands and inside your pocket. When you reach your door, you should have had your keys ready in the proper position in your hands. This will avoid a situation where you are scrambling around in your bag. When this happens, you are at risk of being distracted.
  • Avoid struggling with lots of bags. Struggling with five different bags at night as you make your way into the house can be a fact of life, but you should avoid it whenever possible. Multiple bags can prevent your ability to react quickly should a dangerous situation arise.
  • If you think you are being followed, head into an open store, restaurant or lighted home if you cannot make it to a police station.
  • Act on your gut feelings. If someone gives you a bad feeling, tell him or her clearly to leave you alone, and walk away.
  • If someone asks you for the time, keep your eyes up as you check your watch.
  • Give directions from a distance. Do not approach a car that has stopped to ask you directions.
  • Yell if you are under attack. Keep yelling, repeatedly. Yell as loud as you can. Scream. Be noisy. This alone may spook off the attacker.
  • Know what to do in the worst-case scenario. A best defense against an attack is awareness and action. If you are faced with an uncomfortable or dangerous situation and you can escape, do so immediately. Only you can determine what you can or will do when faced with an attacker.