Winter is now upon us and as the dull evenings draw in, many workers find themselves travelling to and from work in the dark. With the decrease in daylight, the opportunity for potential attackers rises significantly.
To help you stay safe on your journey we have compiled a list of our top ten recommendations on what to do, should you have to travel in the darkness.
As the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers so if you know beforehand that you’ll be travelling home after dark, try and find a friend or trusted colleague who will be taking a similar route. People on their own are more at risk, so walking in groups if possible is strongly recommended.
Phone a friend before you set out to let them know your whereabouts and when you are due home. If you fail to arrive at your destination by the given time, someone can check then up on you to see if you are ok. Always make sure your phone is fully charged before setting out so that it’ll be working should you encounter any problems on your travels.
Knowing where you are heading will help you project an air of confidence, so it’s best to plan your journey in advance. Choose a route that avoids walking through dark or secluded areas such as alleyways, car parks, fields or woodland, even if this means finding an alternative to your usual route. Try to stick to well-lit areas where you know there will always be people around. If you do become lost, don’t stop to look at a map until you are in a safe place.
At night, it’s especially important to be aware of your surroundings at all times so no-one can sneak up on you. Refrain from wearing headphones, hats, hoods or any other items of clothing that obscure your vision. You need to know what is going on around you, so that you can react quickly if the event of a problem.
Also, when travelling along a road always walk in the direction of oncoming traffic, so you are visible to drivers and vehicles can’t pull up silently behind you.
It may sound obvious but if you are walking after dark, keep expensive items such as mobile phones and iPods away from sight. Walking around with these out on display and lit up draws unwanted attention, advertising them to thieves. Using a mobile phone can also be a distraction making it easier for someone to sneak up.
Attackers often target those that appear vulnerable or nervous. When out at night, walk with confidence, keeping your head up and take big strides. Even if you’re not sure where you are going, walking as if you do may deter assailants.
At this time of year in particular, people often carry heavy bags full to the brim of Christmas shopping, which can unfortunately make them a possible target. Try to place items in one bag if possible so it is easier for you to defend yourself or escape if need be.
For anyone that has ever attempted to run whilst wearing high heels, it goes without saying that footwear can either help or severely hinder your chances of getting away from a dangerous situation. For this reason, always bring spare pair of sensible flat shoes if you’re going to be out late and change into these before heading home.
Having a deterrent such as a screech alarm, personal safety device or mobile app can give you extra peace of mind, that in the unfortunate event of something untoward happening, you have a method of defence you can call upon.
The key to staying safe whilst travelling late at night is to trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy about a situation, then it is best to steer clear. Avoid people that look suspicious and only make brief eye contact with those passing by. If strangers approach you, do not stop to talk to them. Instead firmly insist that you are in a hurry as someone is expecting you. This may put off a would-be attacker as they know you’re accounted for.
Finally, if you do encounter trouble during your journey, for example a fight breaking out or people acting suspiciously, call the police. Don’t be tempted to get involved in potentially dangerous situations that put your personal safety at risk.