Walk safely, part 1 – preparation

In my previous post, I tiptoed around the topic of Chicago crime. Whether or not you decide to visit this awesome city – and certainly if you live here — it’s always smart to play it safe. In fact, whether you live in a big dangerous city, quiet suburbia or a peaceful remote location, personal safety should play a part in your daily life.

My father, Ralph E. Clarke, Jr., was very security-conscious, especially of his three daughters, and wrote a book called “Be Safe, Girl” that contains self-protection advice for girls, women and anybody. Not simply because I am his daughter, but because the book is very practical – and potentially life-saving — I feel it should be in every household, especially one with young ladies.

In this post, the first in a series on walking safely, are some of the lessons I learned, mostly from my father, to stay safe or, if necessary, escape harm. Chicago is a great city for walking, so whether you live here or come for a visit, read on and walk smart. It starts before you even venture out to walk:

  • Obviously, it’s best to be out in daylight rather than after dark.
  • Plan your route – and vary it, as well as your schedule — even for routine journeys such as to and from work.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going, your itinerary, expected time of arrival; keep numbers handy so you can keep them updated, and make sure they have your number.
  • Do not go off with someone mysterious; make sure someone knows whom you’re with, including the full name and as much data as possible, (phone #, city of residence, place of work, etc). If you’re with a newcomer in your life, a relative stranger, let that person know that others know whom you’re with and when you’re expected to resurface.
  • Even better, travel with a pal when feasible. “There is safety in numbers.” (Ralph E. Clarke, Jr., “Be Safe Girl,” p. 3)
  • Wear colors that repel being approached on the street. Black and yellow is the best color combination for this purpose, just as in nature where most critters that are black and yellow are dangerous. Also, warning signs are often black and yellow. You might, for example, wear a black coat with yellow accessories.
  • Wear shoes in which you can walk comfortably or run if necessary, and make sure your footgear is weather appropriate for stealth get-aways.
  • Consider investing in props that can protect you:
    • A flashlight can not only help you see in the dark, it can be used as a self-defense tool. If you don’t already carry one, you probably should. Latest models come small and compact and can double as a self-defense tool by blinding an attacker and more.
    • An air horn makes a really loud noise that would surprise and hopefully shoo off an attacker and will definitely attract attention from others in the vicinity who could help. There are air horn apps for your device in lieu of carrying an air horn.
    • Consider wearing a police-quality whistle; these are loud enough to be heard for blocks. When utilized, a thug will hopefully run away as you draw attention from people nearby.
    • Pepper spray, mace and even concealed weapons might be a good idea – or not: Realize anything you can use on an attacker can be turned against you; if the attacker gets the better of you, you could be the victim of your own devices; consider this cautiously.
  • Use the toilet before you depart so you can avoid using public facilities, especially at night.

Walk with a Pal

If you walk often, and especially if you walk at night or in questionable neighborhoods, learn some self-defense tactics or even take a self-defense class. More about this in an upcoming post.

Be smart: Walk wisely,
so you can walk through life with the confidence that you can go out in the world and be safe.


Author: MetroMermaid

Welcome to my blog about the great city of Chicago and various other life-enhancing topics. My name is Christine. I've been reporting on Chicago in an online column for six years. Here I’ll be re-posting some of those articles plus adding new material. What qualifies me to write about Chicago? I live right in the heart of downtown Chicago and I love it. I'm like a tourist in my own city, because there's so much to see and do and always something new. Plus it's simply a stunning, gorgeous, exciting place to live or visit. Come explore with me the depths of all this city has to offer.

2 thoughts on “Walk safely, part 1 – preparation”

    1. Hi Liz – What a good role model you are, speaking to seniors at graduation! Yes, please share this information liberally. No one should have to be a victim of crime out of naivety.


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