Staying safe when alone
Waterloo is a relatively safe city, but that doesn’t mean we’re untouchable by danger. Here are four personal safety tips I use that, while obvious, are still forgotten.
- Be cool and mysterious on social media.
In an age of oversharing, we can forget that some things are better kept private- our addresses and whereabouts, for one. While this may seem simple, it’s surprisingly common to share personal information on Instagram and Snapchat, whether it’s an address for open invite parties or letting followers know you’re leaving your place.
Even an innocent photo of your apartment can be used to track down your location if it shows too much of your surroundings. Similarly, posting that you’re on vacation lets followers know that your place is empty.
The likelihood of a stalker, robber or person seeking revenge viewing your social media posts is unclear. However, it’s never a bad idea to limit the amount of personal information we share online.
- Ditch the earphones.
I get it- walking, taking the bus, running errands and just about any task is much better with music. That said, it distracts from our surroundings and can put us in a vulnerable position, especially at night.
When we’re alert enough to hear footsteps behind us or spot an odd movement, we can avoid dangerous situations before it’s too late. We also become less of a target to- for lack of a better term, predators, since they know we’re aware of our surroundings.
Earphones are also a hazard when crossing the street as they make it harder to notice incoming traffic. As unfortunate as life is without a soundtrack, it’s even more unfortunate to lose our lives entirely.
- Walk through distractions like Kanye on the red carpet.
When catcalled by strangers on the street, it’s natural to be thrown off guard and slow your pace. I’m guilty of this myself- I used to pay attention to the remarks of strangers and show my discomfort. The only thing that resulted from giving them the time of day was that they felt more inclined to continue their advances.
As a result, I’ve learned to act as though strangers who make unwanted advances are simply not there. No matter what obscenities they call out, they won’t persist for long if we don’t respond at all and continue walking at our normal pace.
- Get a data plan, any data plan.
If possible, it’s worth investing in a basic data plan to avoid the predicament of being stranded without Wi-Fi. Especially for the directionally challenged like myself, this is way better than asking strangers for directions and appearing vulnerable. It’s also far more reliable than trusting that every location will have a nearby Tim Horton’s with free Wi-Fi.
Even if you have the route researched beforehand, unexpected changes can happen. Whether it’s a delayed bus or closed road, constant access to Google Maps will come in handy. Not to mention, you’d be able to call an Uber or search up the number of a taxi if you find yourself in a situation that you need to leave- if the law enforcement isn’t needed, of course.