Guest Post by Daniela Baker
It’s unfortunate, but parking assaults are an increasingly common occurrence around the world. Parking garages, with their weird shadows, eerie silence, and terrible reputation for danger, are oftentimes scary places. Many things can go wrong in a parking garage – from your basic fender bender with a driver who isn’t paying attention to a kidnapping or assault.
These six tips will help keep you safe next time you’re in a parking garage, no matter where you are:
1. Be alert
Most accidents can be avoided if we are all a little more alert. Make it a point to keep your eyes open and constantly scan your surroundings. And keep your ears alert, as well – no cell phone or headphones to distract you or drown out potentially important noises. Be alert both when you’re walking into and out of the facility and when you’re parking or driving out of the garage. Just paying attention to other drivers, people who are on foot in the lot, and anything off about your surroundings will keep you safer than most people.
2. Don’t use elevators or stairs
Stairs and elevators are great places to get trapped with a person who wants to harm you. This piece of advice is especially important for women, but even men can get trapped in stairwells or elevators with a predator or thief. It’s almost impossible to hear someone in these sections of the parking garage, which is why you must avoid these areas when you’re alone.
3. Consider changing your shoes
Again, this tip is especially important for women, who are more often targets for thieves and worse predators in parking garages. If you wear heels or flats that you can’t run in to work, consider changing into tennis shoes before you go pick up your car. Not only will your feet be more comfortable, but you’ll also be able to run if you see someone suspicious.
4. Carry items for your protection
When walking into potentially dangerous areas, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst with pepper spray and a personal noisemaker. (Be careful, though, because pepper spray is not allowed in all states or countries.) Even just making a lot of noise if someone tries to grab or rob you can be a deterrence; most predators will target only people who look vulnerable and unprepared.
5. Check common hiding spots
The National Safety Commission notes that you should make a habit of scanning behind, in front of, and under, and inside your car as you’re walking up to it. In addition, it’s a good idea to be wary of large trucks and vans parked directly next to your car. Most likely, there’s nothing off about trucks and vans in your average parking garage. But kidnappers have used them as an easy way to shove a target inside and drive off.
6. Lock your doors and leave
Probably the most important way to protect yourself is to lock your doors immediately – before you even secure your seatbelt – and leave right away. If you need to buckle a child into a seat, get in the back seat with him and shut and lock the door before buckling him in. Then look around before you get out to get into your seat. People who sit around in a parking garage and take their time before driving away – fiddling with the radio or a GPS – just make themselves targets.
These six tips for staying safe may seem a little scary and alarmist, but the truth is that parking garages are an excellent place for predators to hide and to take advantage of you.
Daniela Baker is a blogger and writer for Credit Donkey
Photo Courtesy of Secure Community Network