Whether you’re walking out to your car through the Parkland parking lots or enjoying an evening out in downtown Champaign, Urbana, or Campustown, foot travel at night carries more risks than the daytime. As starts to get nicer outside, we’ve compiled the following list of tips to help you safely reach your destination:
- Stay away from poorly lit areas and avoid taking shortcuts down dark alleyways or paths. Choose well-lit, heavily traveled sidewalks.
- If you are in an emergency situation, call 911.
- Whenever possible, do not walk alone at night.
- Be aware of places along your path that could conceal a criminal (shrubbery, buildings, recesses, etc.). Avoid these areas.
- Do not use headphones or talk on a cell phone while walking alone at night as this reduces your awareness of your surroundings.
- If you think someone is following you, make your way to a populated area and consider calling the police.
- Carry yourself with confidence. If confronted, shout or use a whistle to attract attention.
- It is risky to travel under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. Drugs and alcohol can greatly alter your perceptions, reaction time, and judgments.
- Make sure to tell someone your plans and travel routes and when to expect your arrival.
- Wear clothing that will allow you to run if necessary. If you need to run, drop any heavy cargo you’re carrying (heavy books, packages, etc.) since these slow you down.
[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]