How to stay safe when out and about this autumn

After a glorious summer it has suddenly started to feel like autumn. The nights are darker and colder, and we’re all getting coats, sweaters and other winter clothes out of the back of the wardrobe.

In one way, those darker nights can feel lovely and cosy. Many of us enjoy just locking ourselves in for the evening and watching something good on TV. But if you are an active person and still want to get out and about, there is no reason at all not to continue doing this throughout autumn and winter.. 

However, you may be feeling a bit unsettled by various recent high profile crimes. In theory, we should all be able to go anywhere we like, wherever and whenever we choose. And why should a fear of something bad happening stop us doing that? Hopefully nothing will ever happen, so why feel limited by the very small chance that it might?

One thing we can do is to take a few simple steps to stay safe. So here are five things that you can do. They are not complicated or intrusive, but just some practical safeguards based on police advice. 

So why not take a look and see if you can incorporate some or all of these into your regular routine?

  • Be organised

Always make sure that you know where you are going, how to get there, and how you will get home again. This avoids any risk of you getting lost, and also makes your trip much less stressful.

If you are walking to your destination, take the time to plan your route in advance, and try to stick to places either that you know or are well-lit, busy areas. Wherever possible avoid shortcuts that may take you into side streets, alleyways or parks. These guidelines also apply to driving and parking your car.

If you are travelling by public transport, try to sit in busy carriages on trains and tubes, and on the lower deck of buses, within easy reach of the driver. And if you plan to get a cab home, it’s always a good idea to book this in advance so you know it will be there and will be a licensed cab that is reliable and safe.

Finally, think carefully about what you take with you. You need to have all the essentials – money, phone, keys etc – but also avoid carrying more stuff than you need, and ensure that any valuables are not on display.

  • Safety in numbers

Depending where you are going and what you are doing, try to travel with friends if possible and keep within sight of one or more of your group. 

If you have been out with friends and are then travelling home separately, take time to check that everyone has arrived home safely. Keep checking until you get an answer so that if someone does need help you can act quickly. Always better safe than sorry – so if in doubt, act.

It’s also a good idea to have a plan as to what you would do if something goes wrong. Hopefully this will never happen, but it is better to be prepared in advance rather than end up in chaos. So take time to agree what you would do if, for example, one of you is taken ill, is attacked or robbed, or even goes missing. 

  • Always look confident and stay in control

You can help to protect yourself by acting confident and staying in control. Psychology is a powerful force, and if you stand up tall, act purposefully and look confident it can make you appear stronger and less vulnerable to anyone who might happen to be watching you.

If you are having a night out and need to travel home, particularly on your own, be careful not to drink more than you can safely handle – and remember to keep an eye on your drink to avoid the possibility of it being spiked. You need to know that you are capable and in control at all times.

  • Stay alert

It’s important to stay alert, and always be aware of what is going on around you. Try to avoid using your phone or headphones whilst walking, as this can reduce your awareness to potential threats nearby. Be watchful and keep an eye open for anything that looks a bit suspicious. You can then make a decision to avoid the situation either by crossing the road or changing direction.

When walking on a busy road, try to walk against the flow of the traffic where possible, as this makes it more difficult for someone coming up on a bike behind you. Keep valuables such as your phone out of sight to avoid the risk of them being snatched.

  • Always trust your instincts

This last point is really important. We can be very hesitant to make a fuss, and it can be easier just to ignore your instincts and assume everything will be ok. Which it usually is, but if something doesn’t feel right, it is better to be safe than sorry. 

So if you are feeling uncomfortable about something, either find a way to get out of the situation immediately or ask someone nearby for help. 

Another helpful option is to have a code word that you text to a friend if you sense you are in trouble. This is even more useful if you set up location sharing in advance so that your friend is able to track your phone.

There are also a variety of personal safety apps that can keep you in touch with one or more trusted friends so that you can let them know where you are and what is happening. Some popular examples of these are Panic Button, Life 360 and Hollie Guard.

We hope that the above tips help you to stay safe when out and about this autumn.

For more lifestyle and financial tips, check back here soon with direct lender Munzee Loans.