As a single woman living alone in the Big Apple, there is always something exciting going on. New York isn’t called “the city that never sleeps” for nothing, so you can always find something to do no matter what time of day it is. However, as a single woman living alone, there are also precautions you should take to ensure your safety. Use the following eight tips as a checklist and you just might come up with some of your own to add to the list. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
1. Don’t Make It Obvious that You Live Alone
The first thing you might want to consider is the fact that you are living alone in a city with more than 8.5 million people. You never know who is watching and who might be a danger to you. In the first quarter of last year, 2017, there were 104 reported rapes which was up 3% from the first quarter of 2016. Once a would-be rapist knows that you live alone, you are in danger. If you can leave a pair of men’s shoes on the outside doorstep or other items which would appear as though a man lives there, someone who doesn’t know you wouldn’t know you are living alone simply by watching you from the outside.
2. Get to Know Your Neighbors
Another thing you can do to protect yourself when living alone is to get to know your neighbors better. No, you don’t need to divulge that you live alone, but get a feel for who they are and what they do. You might even discover other women living alone as well. Buddy up with other single women who can watch out for each other as an added precaution. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one and that extra head gives you two extra eyes to be on the lookout.
3. Always Tell Someone Where You Are Going
When going out by yourself, other than to work which you do daily at the same time and usually on the same route, always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return home. If you are inordinately late or incommunicado for any length of time, they can call in a missing person report so that your whereabouts can be tracked quickly. There’s nothing as difficult as tracking a cold trail days or weeks old.
4. Practice Safe Sex
We are, after all, living in the 21st Century and so it is safe to assume that you will develop sexual liaisons from time to time. Since you can never really be sure how sexually active your partner has been prior to meeting you, always practice safe sex. NYC has some of the nation’s highest per capita instances of sexually transmitted diseases, STDs, so you will want to do what you can to avoid such things as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS or even syphilis. I had a friend who would very often go to her atlanta gynecologist but then after moving to NYC she stop checking as often and ended up getting chlamydia. If you have any doubt, you can always find an STD test clinic near you, some of which are free test sites and others charge a nominal price.
5. Learn to Use Your Smartphone
Few people have those little flip phones anymore as the cost of smart phones has rapidly dropped over the past few years. There are several ways to use your smartphone in NYC to help you stay safe, one of which is to ensure you have your “locate my phone” function enabled. Also, check out routes to unknown locations prior to leaving the house so that you can see if your route is the safest. Keep your phone in easy reach in case you are assailed and if you are really uncomfortable, call a friend and stay on the line until you are in a safe location. If you’re using public transport, check out Moovit schedules and then you’ll be able to tell your friends if your train is running late!
6. Keep Emergency Numbers Posted in Plain View
While everyone knows 911, there are other emergency numbers you may want to keep handy. Some women post them on the refrigerator and some keep them tucked into the frame of a mirror in their bedrooms. In any case, always have fire rescue handy as well as poison control, an nyc lawyer, and any close neighbors who can get to you quickly in the event that you’ve been injured and need immediate assistance. If possible, keep them posted in more than one location so that you can access them quickly if the need should arise.
7. Regularly Check Smoke Alarms and Fire Extinguishers
Just one apartment fire can take down an entire building and even if your apartment doesn’t catch fire, that smoke alarm may pick up invisible smoke in time for you to safely evacuate. If a neighbor’s apartment catches fire, chances are your alarm will be set off long before you can detect it by sight or smell. On the other hand, you wouldn’t want a fire in your apartment destroying the entire block, so keep a fire extinguisher on hand and have it checked regularly by the appropriate testing service.
8. Be on the Alert – Know Your Surroundings
Finally, whenever venturing out on your own, always be alert as to your surroundings. Does anything ‘feel’ wrong? Do you see someone who appears to be following you? It always pays to know what is going on around you because it will be at the moment you least expect that a purse snatcher, rapist or any other criminal can catch you off guard. If you feel that anything is not right, like above, get on the phone with someone who can stay with you until you are safe in a location with lots of people around you. Never go straight home if you feel someone is watching or following you! You could be placing yourself in greater harm’s way.
NYC is a fun place to live and work, but as a single woman living alone, you need to rely on yourself more than you would in other parts of the country. These savvy tips should help to keep you safe if you follow them. Remember, the moment you let down your guard is the moment you are at greatest risk. Stay on guard and your chances of staying safe are good. Let down your guard and you’re lost.