Staying Safe in Public

3 Basic Rules

  • Do stay alert. Keep your mind on your surroundings, who’s in front of you and who’s behind you. Don’t get distracted.
  • Do walk purposefully, stand tall and make quick eye contact with people around you.
  • Do trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, leave.

When Walking

  • Plan the safest route. Choose well-lit busy streets and avoid passing vacant lots, alleys and construction sites.
  • Know your area-police and fire stations, and what establishments are open late.
  • Make sure you know where your children are going when they go out. Show them safe places in the neighborhood.
  • Walk confidently at a steady pace, facing traffic.
  • Walk close to the curb.
  • Avoid doorways, bushes and alleys.
  • Don’t walk alone at night.
  • Always avoid areas with a few people.
  • Be careful when people stop you for directions. Reply from a distance, and don’t get too close to the car.


  • Carry your purse close to your body.
  • Carry your wallet inside your coat rather than in a rear trouser pocket.
  • Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry or flash cash.
  • Don’t overburden yourself with large packages or groceries that make it hard to react.

If Being Followed

  • If you suspect you’re being followed on foot, cross the street and head for the nearest well lighted, populated area.
  • If you’re being followed by someone in a car, change direction immediately and make a visible point of writing down the license number.

What If You’re Attacked

  • Remain calm; try not to panic or show signs of anger or confusion.
  • If the attacker is only after your purse, wallet or valuables don’t resist.
  • Make an effort to get an accurate description of you’re attacker: age, race, complexion, build, height, weight, type and color of clothing.
  • Call the police immediately, identifying yourself and your location.

Public Transportation

  • Try to use well lighted and frequently used stops.
  • Try to sit near the driver or conductor.
  • Avoid sitting near exits. An attacker can reach in and grab a purse or jewelry as the bus or subway pulls away.
  • Be alert to who gets off the bus or subway with you. If you feel uncomfortable, walk directly to a place where there are other people.

In Elevators

  • Look in the elevator before getting in.
  • Stand near the controls Get off if someone suspicious enters.
  • If you’re worried about someone who is waiting for the elevator with you, pretend you forgot something and don’t get on.
  • If you’re attacked, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as possible.

Outdoor Activities

  • Choose routes you know well and that are well populated. Know businesses that are open, and the location of police and fire stations.
  • Consider not wearing headphones-it’s safer to be alert and completely aware of your surroundings.

While Driving

  • Keep your car in a good condition, and the gas tank at least half full. Park in well-lighted areas and lock your doors, no matter how long you’ll be gone.
  • Check front and rear seats and floorboards before entering your vehicle.
  • Drive with all doors locked and windows rolled up.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • If your car breaks down, put the hood up, lock the doors and turn on the flashers. If someone stops to help, roll down the window slightly and ask them to call the police or a tow truck.
  • Avoid underground and enclosed parking garages if possible.
  • If you’re being followed, don’t drive home. Go instead to the nearest police station, or an open service station or business where you can call the police.
  • Don’t leave your car unless you are certain you can get inside safely.