Urban Safety Essentials: Tips for Women on the Move

Urban Safety Essentials: Tips for Women on the Move

As a long-time distance runner, mom of 2, resident of a metropolitan area, and owner of a shooting range and gun shop, I have strong feelings when it comes to safety.

Women are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, and with some preparation and awareness, relative risk of being a victim can be drastically reduced.

While situational awareness and avoiding risks is imperative, training, a layered self-defense plan, and the correct mindset are additions women need to approach with an open mind.

Empowering Your Run: Safety Strategies for Women Joggers

When I became a mom, my feelings on personal safety intensified natural right? All of the sudden you are responsible for keeping something else safe and alive. Kids also make you an easier target and provide multiple tactical complications.

One non-lethal weapon I always suggest to moms is pepper spray.

While innocuous sounding, pepper spray is extremely debilitating and effective, affordable, and easy to conceal. I also hear women say they are afraid to use it because of spray back- but this is a myth. Most pepper spray comes out in a silly string like concentrated jet- NOT like hairspray.

The correct way to deploy is back and forth across an attacker's eyes. It's also effective against animals, which is helpful for feral dogs. Pepper spray is also legal in most states and has limited civil liability if deployed. Whether you are running miles or errands pepper spray is a great option for self-protection in an urban environment.

Maximizing Safety in Parking Facilities: Expert Advice

Parking facilities are the third most frequent place in which violent crime (Such as rape, robbery, assault) occur in the US. You can decrease your relative risk of being the victim of a crime simply by being hyper alert in areas most likely to expose you to the risk.

Try and avoid parking lots, garages, and gas stations after dark. Visit high traffic locations with witnesses around.

When entering a parking lot, I advise parking under a light if it is dark outside. Pull your car through a spot, so you can drive straight out instead of having to back up when you return, in case you need to make a hasty exit.

I also try to give myself space around my vehicle, making it harder for a perpetrator to hide better to walk a few extra steps and keep yourself in a place of high visibility.

Coming and going from your vehicle, keep a non-lethal self-defense tool in hand, I like the keychain pepper sprays and Kubatons. DO NOT wait until you need it to pull it out of your purse! This also allows you immediate access to your cars panic button.

When you return to the vehicle, immediately get inside and lock the doors. If you are loading children into a car seat, this adds considerable time to securing yourself in a vehicle. If you see strangers or have concerns- put the child in the car, lock yourself inside, then secure the child in the car seat.

One last parking lot advice: wear shoes you can move quickly in. I love a stiletto as much as the next girl- but they make you a soft target and slow your escape.

Remember: Time is space- space is survival.

Layered Self-Defense: A Comprehensive Approach for Urban Women

Speaking of moving: Walking and running is a common activity you see women partake in every day. However, many end up in parks, public spaces, remote trails, and isolated areas that put them at risk.

Runners should pair up whenever possible. Always tell someone your planned route, expected time of return, and plan routes in safe, well attended areas.

Technology has evolved to make this space safer from things like bone conduction headphones so you can hear, to light vests to make you visible to cars, and even self-defense tools specifically tailored to walking and running, there are many options to make running and walking safer.

A tactical flashlight is a great improvised weapon. Bright light is disorienting and temporarily blinding, and these flashlights are heavy and have a serrated front that can break skin.

Defensive rings, like GoGuarded make exceptional weapons that leave your hands free. I also love my KubaKickz, which are great for defending against a feral dog.

Stay Informed, Stay Safe: Resources and Recommendations

Self-defensive strategies need to be layered so they can be tailored to the threat level. Use of force laws dictate we use the least lethal method to subdue the threat.

I always carry a nonlethal (like pepper spray), a less lethal (like a taser, stun gun, etc.), to a lethal weapon (gun or knife). I strongly encourage women to find a situational awareness class near them and take it. If you can’t find one nearby, consider reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker and When Violence is the Answer by Tim Larkin. Understanding these principles and making a plan is key to survival.

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Katie Ball is the owner of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Spokane WA and the person behind the women's emphasis page @thatsharpshootinggirl. Want more content like this from the author?

You can find me online at @thatsharpshootinggirl.

If you like her writing, you can find more of her articles in LadyShooter Lifestyles Magazine