Perhaps the most significant factor is that in addition to having our hands full as we move to our cars, parking lots are a naturally reflective “transition time.” These are locations when our minds are often not ‘at the moment.’ Moving to our vehicles is a time when the mind – however subconsciously – is most likely to either revert back to whatever it was we were just doing or projects forward to what we are about to do. This means where are less likely to be situationally aware of our immediate surroundings, thus more vulnerable to attack. Be aware of this disadvantage. Make the following best practices part of your every day “parking process” and help bring your mind back to the present. Increasing your situational awareness will drastically reduce your likelihood of being attacked.
Seven Simple Safety Solutions:
- Whenever possible, choose a parking lot rather than a parking garage. The natural visibility and surveillance of a parking lot are much better than inside a parking garage where line-of-site safety is drastically reduced by support beams, ramps, elevator bays, and stairwells.
- Try to park in areas that are well-lit and easily accessible. Those closest to the main entrance or parking garage exits are best. If you have to call for help, you want to be found fast, so it’s best to avoid dark, remote, and hard to describe locations. Ask yourself this question when you get out of your car. If you were to scream for help, would anyone see or hear you? If the answer is, “no” or “not really” park elsewhere.
- If you feel someone is following you or paying you the wrong kind of attention, look at them right in the face. You may even choose to make some kind of out loud, the off-hand comment describing them. “Red hat.” “Blue shirt.” “Brown Hair.” Saying something descriptive helps your mind to take a memory snapshot of what you’re seeing. Criminals rely on anonymity to successfully carry-out and get away with their crimes. Letting them know that you see them serves two purposes: it demonstrates to a would-be-attacker that you are aware of their presence and have therefore taken away their “element of surprise,” but you also take away their anonymity. Now that you have seen their face, you could describe them to the police and identify them in a line-up.
- Use the panic alarm. If you sound the alarm well-before you get to your car (like as you’re leaving the store) the attention of everyone in the surrounding area will be brought to your car. Bad guys need anonymity to do their bidding. Your car alarm will bring the would-be-attacker unwanted attention and drastically reduce their likelihood of success. Intentionally “sounding the alarm” raises your own awareness too.
- Attackers play your fear to their advantage. Turn the tables and use them to yours. If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell “NO!” “STOP!” or “STAY BACK!” Most criminals interviewed after their crimes have repeatedly stated they would leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Criminals want easy prey. They prefer the weakest among us, not the strongest.
- If you have a baby with you, young children, or just a lot of stuff to carry, try to park so that the side of the car you use to load/unload faces the store’s entrance. You’ll be safer where those entering and exiting the store can see and hear you.
- Keep in mind that how your park is just as important as where you park. Parking so that your car faces out may make it easier when it’s time to leave, but it also may make it easier for a would-be-attacker to create a trap. If you see someone suspicious in the car next to you, especially if it’s a van, exercise caution. Don’t be afraid to go back inside and ask for an escort. TRUST YOUR GUT! This is especially important if no one else is around. Remember that you can always use the passenger door to enter. Don’t let yourself get “boxed in.” It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Have the immediate safety app Leelou downloaded on your phone. In case of any emergency and suspicious people lurking around you get to have an emergency call to your guardians to ask for immediate help and to let them know that you're in danger.
Search and add from your phone's contacts list to your Leelou Contacts list.
Carefully select and Invite up to 5 of these friends and family to be your Guardians who can and will respond in an emergency.
Move the Leelou App icon to your home screen for easier access.
In an emergency, press the SOS button and Guardians. If you ever feel vulnerable, use AIA Mode for instant access to get help to you fast.
Remember: Effective self-defense begins long before a physical altercation. Awareness of your surroundings, awareness of your environment, and awareness of what looks ‘out of place,’ prepares you physically and mentally for what may come next. Being aware and engaged with your environment also promotes confidence that is often your first line of defense in convincing a would-be-attacker that they will have a greater chance of success targeting someone else.
It’s easy to become a victim in a parking lot. All it takes is a lack of awareness on your part, and a predator looking for his next target. Predators don’t like it when people fight back. So, they look for people who appear to be unaware and preoccupied. They make easier victims. Don’t make their job easier.