I grew up in a small village in the middle of nowhere. I often joke with my friends that I grew up in a field (which is not far from the truth). It was the kind of village where kids were safe doing whatever. I have fond memories of running around town with my best friend and climbing trees without parental supervision when I was as young as eight.
Other than the usual ‘don’t talk to strangers’, my parents never really had to talk to me about safety. When I moved to university, I suddenly found myself living in a large city that was not as safe as the village I grew up in. Here is what I do to stay safe in a big city.
Try to avoid going out by yourself at night. Stay with a group of friends when leaving bars late at night and make sure your phone is charged so that you can call someone to walk with you or pick you up if needs be.
Insuring your belongings may keep you from losing an awful lot of money. Expensive items, such as laptops, phones and musical instruments, would be very costly to replace if you lose them.
Keep an eye on how much you’re drinking on nights out or at parties. Avoid getting drunk if you can, but definitely if you are not with people you really trust to take care of you. Keeping track of how much alcohol you’ve had will also alert you to things like spiking.
Spiking is where someone slips drugs or alcohol into your drink with the intention of incapacitating you. If you begin to feel unwell or more drunk than you should be, tell a friend immediately. For more information on spiking see what the NHS has to say.
Don’t leave your bags unattended anywhere in public. Someone could steal them or they could be removed as a security risk. Try to avoid walking with your phone in your back pocket or hand too. Instead, keep your phone in your bag or a front pocket, preferably with a zip.
Keep your valuables out of sight. This makes them harder to steal, as people can’t see them from outside. Make sure all outside doors are fitted with working locks (and make sure they are locked behind you, whether you’re inside or outside).
Always pre-book your taxis. Never get in a taxi that you haven’t pre-booked - if something goes wrong, there is no way to track down the driver. The only exception is Hackney Carriage taxis, commonly known as black cabs (although they might be a different colour depending on where you live) that you can approach at taxi ranks or flag down in the street.
Read more: How to get a safe taxi home in the UK
If it’s an emergency, call the police! Nowadays, many smartphones have a way to call emergency services without having to dial (e.g. press the power button five times on an iPhone), make sure you know how to on your phone.