After years of living at home with a large, loud family or in college dorms, I was totally unprepared for living alone in my first apartment post-college. Suddenly, I heard every sound. A creak in the floor, the sound of the AC kicking on in the middle of the night, neighbors shutting doors down the hall…you name it and it sent me into an instant panic that there was an intruder in my apartment.
Although my personal experience is a bit, let’s say paranoid, it gets to the truth about what it’s like to live alone when you’ve enjoyed the company of fellow housemates for most of your life. It can be really scary.
But, it doesn’t have to be if you’re wise and take a few precautions to protect yourself. Although you can never 100% guarantee that nothing bad will happen (unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world), you can greatly reduce your risk by playing it smart with your safety. If you’re living solo, put these 8 tips to use.
Tip #1: Do your research.
Ideally, before you move into a place, you’ll always do some digging to find out crime stats and the generally safety of an area (that way you don’t pick a bad neighborhood to begin with). But, if it’s a little to late for you to choose a different location, it’s still important to know what you’re working with when it comes to a potential treat. Although it can seem like ignorance is bliss, that old mantra doesn’t hold when it comes to your safety. So, find those crime statistics (you can easily find them with a quick Google search), talk with locals, and read reviews online to get to the know the lay of the land.
Tip #2: Get to know your surroundings.
When you move into your new place, one of the first things you should do is familiarize yourself with all emergency escapes and exits and develop a plan for what you’ll do if there’s a fire, natural disaster, or robbery. It may seem a little overly cautious now, but you’ll thank yourself should you ever have to face one of these situations. It’s also important to get a feel for your surroundings outside of your apartment as well — when you know the neighborhood well, you can avoid bad areas and easily find a hospital, fire department, or police station should you ever need help.
Tip #3: Invest in a portable alarm system.
Yep, they exist and most options are surprisingly affordable. Consult your good friend Google and find one that works for you.
Tip #4: Keep an eye on your battery life.
If you’re like me, your phone tends to die at the absolute worst moment. Don’t get caught in an emergency without a way to contact help. To be on the safe side, always charge your phone before you head out and keep a spare charger on you at all times.
Likewise, do not let your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm batteries die. They’ll emit an annoying beep when the batteries are going, so don’t ignore it.
Tip #5: Carry pepper spray.
Keep it on your key ring or in an easily accessible location. You may never need it, but you want it close if you ever do.
Tip #6: Never go home if you’re being followed.
Our tendency when we feel scared is to run home, but that’s the worst thing you can do in a situation where you feel that you are being followed. Instead, walk to a crowded area or the nearest hospital, fire department, or police station.
Tip #7: Put apps to work.
There are some really great apps out there that are designed to keep you safe. My personal favorites? bSafe which allows you to set up a network of “guardians” (friends and family of your choice) to follow you home on GPS, and SafeTrek (Simply hold down the button on this app until you feel safe. If you let go before you’re able to enter your safety pin, it automatically notifies the local authorities).
Tip #8: Don’t walk home alone after late night out.
Get an Uber, call a friend… whatever. Just don’t put yourself at risk when you’re most vulnerable.