Safety Tips for Living Alone

written by Daryl Lindsey

I moved into my first solo apartment in the summer of 2010.

I had just moved from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, Germany. Young, naive, and maybe even a little reckless, I felt ready to begin my great European adventure. I couldn’t afford an apartment in the greatest area. Though many assured me that few parts of Frankfurt were truly dangerous, my nights spent alone in my new place made me nervous.

I’d grown accustomed to living with roommates, the ambient sound of others shuffling around in their rooms or running the water in the bathrooms a comforting (albeit slightly annoying) assurance of my own safety.

Now, confronted with the startling silence of my newfound independence, I was hyper-aware of every little bump in the night or creak in the floor. As a young woman living alone in a new place, I knew I’d need to change habits and implement a few safety measures to find peace of mind.

In an ideal world, we would never have to fear being attacked as we walked down the street or locked our doors for the night.

We live in a culture that, far too often, focuses blame on the victims of attack. This happens especially often with women. If a woman is dressed in a way that society deems “immodest,” or has a little too much to drink, or doesn’t prepare herself well enough to fight off unwelcome advances, society shifts the stigma and shame away from the attacker and onto her. I don’t want to contribute to that culture in any way. 

In an ideal world, we would never have to fear being attacked as we walked down the street or locked our doors for the night, because the utopian society in which we lived would have raised a generation of men who respected women and understood important values like consent and, you know, not attacking or robbing other human beings. 

We unfortunately don’t live in that ideal world. Though it’s important to know you’ll never be at fault for the actions of another person, it’s still prudent to take charge of your own wellbeing and be smart about your safety. 

We’ve partnered with SABRE, the leader in campus and apartment safety for tips on smart solo living from their personal safety expert, Jennifer Cassetta:

1. Take initiative 

Before moving in, find your building’s fire escapes and exit doors. Make sure all buzzers and locks work and that exit doors are not blocked. You’ll want to make sure those entry/exit points are secure and that you can and know how to get out in case of a fire or natural disaster. 

2. Location, location, location

Like me, it’s likely that your budget won’t afford you your ideal apartment in the best neighborhood when first starting out. You’ll likely find more affordable “up and coming” neighborhoods that may have higher crime rates. Google your neighborhood’s crime rate and look for reviews on the area or even the specific apartment complex. Personal reviews will probably yield more useful information than plain statistics. If possible, talk to people who already live in the area for their opinions. 

3. Carry pepper spray 

I didn’t carry pepper spray for most of my life but the truth is, I feel safer with it. The extra protection, used responsibly of course, is as good for your own peace of mind as it is for your safety. Keep your pepper spray easily accessible if you’re feeling unsafe. We love that proceeds from the Kuros!™ pepper spray provide pepper spray to women in developing countries.

4. Don’t cut corners

Have a taxi or Uber drop you right in front of your building, not at the corner to save money or to save your Uber share partner from going around the block. The extra few dollars are worth the safety and peace of mind.

5. Know your physical boundaries 

If you feel like someone might be following you, don’t back yourself into a corner with a potential attacker. Avoid elevators, parking garages, or alleyways. Move toward an open and public space as quickly as possible. 

6. Consider an alarm

A security system is an easy way to protect yourself and your belongings while helping you sleep soundly at night. If you’re worried about installation costs, there are portable options available that are very cost-effective. 

7. Keep it charged

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important enough to earn itself a spot on the list. Pack an extra charger or a battery life key ring to keep your phone juiced up when you’re out and about. You don’t want to be caught without a phone in an emergency. 

We’ve teamed up with SABRE to help you feel safe in your space! Check out their blog for more tips.

To enter: Follow @SabreSafety on Instagram and leave a comment below telling us at least one step you’ll take to make sure you’re safe at home. Be sure to leave your email or Instagram handle so we contact you if you’ve won. 

Deadline: You have until Sunday, August 16 at 11PM CST to enter.

The Giveaway: