5 Tips for Staying Safe as a Night Student

Night studentGoing to school at night is a great choice for students who have jobs, kids, or other commitments during the day. But just like any other activity done at night, there are some risks involved. Parking lots and campus footpaths are particularly prime spots for unexpected, unwelcome events. Follow these tips to help you stay calm, confident, and less likely to be victimized.

Plan Ahead

  • Make sure someone knows your schedule: where you are going, your expected travel time, and how long you plan on being there. You might want to check in with that person once you arrive safely back at home after classes.
  • Know your walking routes ahead of time. Stick to well-lit, well-traveled thoroughfares and parking lots. Avoid quiet, deserted, and poorly lit areas.

Don’t Go It Alone

  • Walk with friends or a group whenever possible. There’s truth to the old adage that there’s safety in numbers.
  • Have phone numbers for housemates, friends, and/or family members, and don’t be afraid to use them if you feel threatened.
  • Know emergency campus phone numbers and the locations of safety departments in case of emergencies.
  • Many campuses offer free personal safety services, such as night shuttle buses, safe walking route maps, and trained escorts. Those services are often available round-the-clock, year-round, and may even extend beyond campus borders.

Chicago night

Keep Electronics and Valuables Put Away

  • Avoid talking on your mobile phone or listening to music on your headphones. This will distract you from monitoring your surroundings and prevent you from hearing any potential danger signs.
  • Keep valuable items in your purse or backpack. Having tempting possessions in plain view can attract unwanted attention.

Use Personal Safety Devices

  • Be sure to keep any personal safety device in an easily accessible place or carry it in your hand. Don’t keep it at the bottom of a bag or backpack, where you can’t reach it. If you feel at risk, it’s better to use it and be mistaken. Personal safety devices only work if you use them.
  • Campuses often provide personal safety alarms or whistles. Check with your Student Services to see what’s available to you.
  • Consider carrying a pepper spray or mace dispenser. Look for one with a steady stream instead of a spray, or it could blow back in your face.

Act with Confidence

  • Walk with your head up, eyes scanning your environment. Assailants target people that appear to be easy College studentvictims.
  • In parking lots, have your car or house key in hand as you approach your vehicle. Check your car’s back seat and floor before getting in, and keep your car locked.
  • If you’re being followed, head towards a public place. Text a friend to meet you or call the police.
  • If you feel you’re in immediate danger, shout and run.
  • If you see someone else in trouble, yell for help or call the police immediately. Getting directly involved may put you in personal danger, but never ignore someone in trouble.
  • Consider taking a class in self-defense. Many campuses offer no-cost trainings to students. If they don’t, Student Services should be able to tell you where to find one that’s free or very low-priced.

At Rideshare Advocate Group, our goal is to help rideshare passengers stay safe.  This includes giving tips for them to help themselves stay safe as well as helping to change the rideshare world to keep riders everywhere safe.  We are working on bringing a lot of great safety tools to the rideshare rider world, but for now, check out our brand new and updated website for rideshare news and more tips!


Stay Safe on Your Night Out

ConcertYou know how it is…you get all dressed up, put on your dancing shoes, and head out for a night on the town with your friends.  You are aiming to have a great night out, but you might not also be thinking about the safety aspects of it.  Sure, you probably know all about the buddy system, which is just as important for men as it is for women, but other than that, you might not put much thought into staying safe when you’re going out for the night.  Make sure your night doesn’t get ruined, and practice these safety tips whenever you go out!

  • Practice Safe Drinking – Yes, of course we mean don’t drink and drive, but we also mean do not leave your drink unattended EVER.  Don’t even turn your back on your drink for a second.  Predators can slip something into your drink in a matter of seconds without anyone noticing.  Always have your eye on your drink, and never take something that someone gives you that isn’t sealed, and always watch the bartender pour your drink!
  • Always Carry Your Cell Phone – It can be difficult when you’re trying to dance and have fun to make sure your phone is always on you, but carry a small purse (or men, put them in your pockets).  Having your phone on you can be important in any emergency situation, obviously, but also if you get stuck and need a ride.  This will avoid what could end up being a very dangerous walk home or asking a stranger for a ride!
  • Have Money Stashed in More Than One Place – Have some extra cash tucked away in your shoe or zipped away in a pocket somewhere, plus the money that you have in your purse or wallet.  If you misplace your wallet (or it gets stolen), you’ll be grateful for this extra side cash to get home!
  • Only Travel with People You Trust – Make sure you’re with people you know and whom you trust not to put you in a dangerous situation.
  • Don’t Leave with Strangers – You could end up in a very bad and very unsafe situation, and you might not end up knowing where you are.  Don’t take the risk!
  • Don’t Tell People Where You’re Staying – Whether you’re in for the weekend from out of town or live just outside the city, don’t make it known to people where you’re going at the end of the night.  You don’t want to leave yourself open to being followed!
  • Always Have a Plan to Get There and Get Home Safely – Make sure you either have a sober friend Taxidriving home or have a rideshare car lined up!  Don’t wait to figure this out at the end of the night when people have been drinking and spending money.  Plan and budget for it ahead of time, and make sure all your friends head home with you so they don’t get themselves into unsafe situations too!

Following these tips can help you and your friends stay safe at a night out.  Remember, if you see something dangerous happening, call the police or EMS.  Also, look out for yourself.  Sometimes, friends have different plans that might not seem safe.  Try to get them to come with you, but make sure you stay safe yourself overall.  If they’re getting into an unsafe situation, it may be best to call authorities or just head home.

Always remember when setting up rides to follow safe rideshare passenger etiquette to make sure you’re getting in the correct car and stay safe the whole way.  Try not to ride alone (or go anywhere alone at night)!  For more rideshare news and safety tips, visit our website, or follow us on Facebook!

Woman on Phone

How to be Aware in a World of Smartphones

Do you have good situational awareness? Do you know, from one moment to the next, what’s happening around you—and are you responding to keep yourself safer?

Crimes against women are common, and when coupled with the fact that women are more likely to be addicted to their smartphones than men, this makes women far more likely to become victims. When your awareness is on your phone, the world around you takes second priority. You effectively cut off your own ability to avoid—and respond to—potential dangers. Although it might not feel like it, when checking your smartphone, you’re actually as vulnerable to attack as you are when you’re sound asleep.

Even “reduced” smartphone use leaves women vulnerable. Intermittently glancing between your phone and your environment can still leave an opening for a bad guy.  And while women often believe that they’re sending a “don’t bother me” signal while looking at their smartphones, a potential attacker reads the signal as “easy target.”

Staying constantly aware of your situation leaves you free to detect and act, and all of them require keeping your attention off your mobile. After all, awareness and preventative behaviors are 90% of self-defense, according to the National Self-Defense Institute in Florida.

Here are 4 things you can do to keep yourself safe—and they all involve putting down your phone.

Pay Attention. It’s undeniable that your phone diverts your attention. You could easily be taken down while you’reWoman in the City off your guard. When you’re looking at your phone or listening to a speaker, you’re missing subtle cues from others, such as avoiding eye contact, shifty body language, and darting eyes. These tiny signals can alert you to taking evasive action long before anything happens. Once something happens, it’s often too late.

Make Eye Contact. When you’re talking on your phone, your peripheral vision is blocked. You simply can’t see the people around you as well, and you’re unable to make good eye contact because you’re focused on the speaker. The same goes when you’re looking down at your screen.

When you look someone in the eye, you let them know you’re aware of them, where they are, and what they’re doing. You don’t need to challenge anyone by staring them down; holding their eyes for a moment is sufficient. This lets them know you’re aware and wouldn’t be so easy to take off guard.

Keep Your Hands Free.  When you’re holding your phone, you can’t use that hand to ward off an attack. The first instinct is often also to protect the phone. While the phone has value, it’s nothing compared to your own safety. Keep your hands free and be ready to fight back, if necessary.

CitAct Confident. Holding a smartphone instead of engaging in your surroundings screams a message of uncertainty. Potential attackers pick victims based largely on body language, and lack of confidence is the last thing you want to project. Walking and sitting with your shoulders back and face forward sends a message of self-assurance. It tells attackers, “I’ve got places to be and things to do. I know where you are and don’t get in my way.”

Not every situation is what it appears to be, and staying vigilant is the only way to pick up on subtle signals that something is wrong. Before pulling out your phone in any situation, ask yourself this: “Would I feel safe enough to lie down and take a nap here?” If the answer is no, be safe and put your phone away.

At RideShare Advocate Group, we focus on the safety of RideShare passengers, but we think ALL safety matters! Find out more about our services or contact us for safety education, consulting, news, and RideShare safety and legal concerns!