What are Some Personal Safety Tips for Being out Late at Night?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Being out late at night can be dangerous, because criminals are often out under the cover of darkness. However, there is no reason not to go out at night, as long as you use your common sense. By being aware of your personal safety, you can greatly reduce the risk when you are out at night, and you may even help law enforcement to apprehend criminals.

Try to avoid dead-end streets at night.
Try to avoid dead-end streets at night.

The best way you can protect your personal safety at night is to travel with a group. A large group of individuals is intimidating to criminals when a single person is not, and members of the group can look out for each other. At a minimum, try to have at least one other person around when you are out at night, and you may want to consider setting up a buddy system with someone in your area. You should also stick to well lighted, frequently traveled areas, especially if you are out alone, because visibility augments personal safety. Try to avoid dead ends and areas of darkness, which are ideal locations for crimes. If you are out exercising and do not have a buddy, consider a large dog. If you don't want to care for a dog full-time, a neighbor might be happy to let you borrow theirs for exercise.

Mace may be helpful for personal safety.
Mace may be helpful for personal safety.

It is also very important to be aware of your surroundings. Look carefully around you while you travel, and take note of anything unusual. Do not use a cell phone or other electronics, because in addition to making you an excellent target for theft, they will distract you. Keep an eye on your personal belongings as well; try to use a purse or backpack which secures with tight zippers, and keep money and other valuables tucked away. Especially when traveling on buses and trains at night, be alert.

It is also an excellent idea to dress sensibly. If you are attending a night time event or walking home from work, pack a pair of practical shoes so that you can move easily. Consider changing out of a skirt or other restrictive garments into clothing which will allow a free range of movement. In addition, dress in light colors so that you are visible to motorists and other pedestrians. Have your keys handy; not only will it prevent you from having to fumble with them at the door, but keys can also be used as a self defense weapon. In addition, if you travel at night frequently, you may want to consider purchasing mace or pepper spray for personal safety.

Many communities offer self defense classes through women's shelters and local law enforcement, along with personal safety workshops. Taking a self defense class will greatly increase your personal safety by making you more self confident and able to protect yourself. Most self defense classes are offered in short segments, and are low charge or free to encourage people to take them. In a self defense class, you can also learn other valuable personal safety tips so that you can project a confident, secure image when you are out at night. To find a personal safety class in your area, use your favorite search engine to search for "self defense class" and your city.

Self-defense classes might be useful for those who are often out late at night.
Self-defense classes might be useful for those who are often out late at night.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Don't dress like a hooker.


@Suntan12 - I think Aikido is a great sport and excellent for self defense. I also wanted to add that you also have to guard your personal safety on the internet.

Personal safety on the internet is crucial especially if you have small children that use the computer.

I have a program installed on my son’s computer that limits websites that he can visit. It is also important to let children know at a young age what dangers are out there and why you should not give any personal information to anyone on the internet.

Teaching children about stranger danger is important because it keeps them safe. My children will not respond to a stranger even if it is a clerk at a store.


@Bhutan - I agree that those are great tips. I also wanted to add that you can take personal safety training courses like Aikido that focus on personal defense.

They even offer courses for kids’ personal safety and reenact dangerous scenarios so that children can be prepared and know what to do. Another great thing to carry is mace. Mace can debilitate any criminal that gets near you and it will give you a chance to get away and call the police.

If you are used to holding on to your keys when you enter a parking lot, then you will be ready to hit the mace button if someone gets too close.

It is also important if someone is making you uncomfortable that you scream so that others can be aware of what is going on and the criminal will run away because he did not want the added attention of on lookers.


@Oasis11 -I have never carried a gun so I can’t really comment on the safety aspects, but I always make sure that I have my keys in my hand and even hold the exact key that I will be opening my car with so that I can get into my car as quickly as possible.

I even do this during the day as a force of habit. I always look around me when I am in a parking lot and never go out into the parking lot without having my keys ready. I think that the last thing that you will want to do is go looking through your handbag at night in a dark parking lot.

This gives a criminal a perfect opportunity to harm you because you are preoccupied with something else and this is what they want. Also, when you scan the parking lot then you can see if someone looks suspicious and in that case you can stay inside the store and alert the store personnel of the odd person in the parking area.

I think that personal security is really about becoming really alert and ready. Criminals will not want to attack someone that is alert. They will usually seek people that are not paying attention because it is easier.


@Jordonakana -I agree that carrying a gun may give the appearance of enhanced personal safety,but it can sometimes escalate an altercation. While a gun is intimidating, if someone sees that you have a gun they may escalate the violence and try to shoot you instead of merely mugging you.

Also, you only have a few seconds to react and if you do not react fast enough the person might use your own gun against you. If you are a skilled marksman then it might be worthwhile, but if not it might be better to have an alternative personal safety plan.


what about learning how to use a gun and carrying one with you?

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