Parking lots can be threatening places if you are not diligent about being aware of your surroundings. When you leave your office for the day or walk to your car after a shopping trip, you are at your most vulnerable. Susceptibility to attacks, kidnappings, muggings and other crimes goes up when you are getting into and out of your car in parking lots, garages and other parking structures. Being aware of your situation at all times is one of the most critical security measures to implement while walking through a parking lot alone at any time of the day.
Take a look at this list of tips for keeping yourself safe and aware when in a parking lot or other parking structure.
Utilize your smartphone’s built-in emergency system.
If an emergency should arise, let your phone work for you. Every iPhone and Android device has an emergency SOS system already built-in for easy access in the event of an emergency. Familiarizing yourself with your phone's emergency features could very well save your life.
Every device is different, so be sure to consult with a friend or family member or the user manual to help you find how to access the emergency SOS system. For most devices, it requires a simple command to access this feature.
You may also choose to share your location with a trusted friend or family member. You can leave this feature set indefinitely so someone is always able to track where you are in the event that you don’t come home when expected. This feature can be turned off at any time.
There are so many distractions, and the biggest diversion of all is our smartphones. Many people walk through parking lots with their eyes cast downward, looking at their phone screens or fumbling with their personal belongings.
Don’t allow a false sense of security to avert your attention from your surroundings. Keep your head up, walk with confidence, stay off your phone and keep your eyes and ears peeled for any signs of suspicious activity.
Locate your keys ahead of time.
We’ve all done it before. You get to your car and absolutely cannot locate your keys to save your life. Having your keys in hand before you arrive at your vehicle could absolutely save your life. Many bad actors look for victims who are distracted, and searching through your purse or briefcase to find your keys could give them the opportunity they are looking for.
If you have a manual car key, have it ready to unlock your door before you arrive at your vehicle. If your car requires a fob, keep your finger next to the button so you can unlock your car door or activate the alarm system if necessary.
If there is any chance that you can park near the door or elevators, be sure to take advantage of that opportunity.
If front row parking isn’t an option, look for a space that is well-lit such as underneath a lamp or streetlight. You might also take careful note of where you parked. Look for any distinguishing markers or labels that can easily direct you back to your vehicle. This will prevent you from walking aimlessly through the lot.
Scan the area.
While approaching your vehicle, be sure to take a quick scan of the area. If anything seems amiss, turn around and go back inside the building or seek help. Some things to look for include:
Flat tires: Check to make sure no one has let out the air or slit your tires.
Surrounding vehicles: Survey the vehicles closest to you. Take note if anyone is inside the vehicle or loitering around it.
Underneath your car: Many muggers and kidnappers will hide beneath your car to grab you as you unlock your door. From a safe distance, take a quick peek underneath your vehicle.
The backseat: Make sure no one has broken into your vehicle and is hiding in your backseat. Look for signs that your belongings have been moved around and check all windows before entering the car.
Ask a security guard for assistance.
If the building, shopping center or commercial property has security personnel, ask for an escort to your vehicle. Don’t be shy about asking for assistance as it is a typical service that professional security guards provide. Guards would be happy to do so, especially if it is late at night or after business hours.
Leave the area quickly.
Once inside your car, don’t procrastinate. As you make your necessary adjustments, continue to keep a vigilant eye on your surroundings. Be sure to leave the area as soon as possible. Once you have pulled out of the lot, it may be a good idea to keep an eye on any moving vehicles that may be following you home.
Intuition is everything!
Listen to your gut. If you are alone and something is telling you to turn back, follow your instincts. We are naturally gifted with the instinct to sense danger. If you don’t feel right about a situation, do not brush that feeling off. More often than not, your fight or flight instinct is going to be correct.
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