Living Single: Safety tips for women living alone
If you’re reading this we can presume two things: you’re a woman who’s preparing to live alone or you are the guardian of a woman ready to leave the nest and start her solo living. With South Africa having the highest rape and GBV (gender-based violence) statistics across the globe, we’re here to give you an informed stance on how to go about living an empowered life in a country where being a woman puts a huge, red bullseye on your back.
Being afraid stops women from being able to participate to their full potential both socially and economically. Being nervous about crime takes up precious energy and whilst we will always push for vigilance, we want you to be able to enjoy your life and use your brainpower for more than worry!
(If anxiety is something that is holding you back from living your fullest life, check out our advice on coping with an anxious mind.)
If we’ve been told to be aware once, we’ve been told to be aware one thousand times. For the women in South Africa, we understand that being unaware is not an option. We understand that you have been trained to keep both eyes open, walk to the bathroom with two friends and have your keys in-between your fingers since you were far too young to be worrying about such things. Now you’ve decided to get your place and your own space and, alongside our excitement for you, we have a few pieces of advice to keep yourself from being a vulnerable target.
Know where you’re headed
When deciding on a new place to live, research is your best ally. During your research on the closest artisan bakery in the area, use the internet to your advantage to find out about the safety of the area. You should be able to pull up the crime statistics of a particular area with a simple Google search - you can find a great heat map here that will pull up the statistics on any area in South Africa for you!
Don’t be scared to ask around you either. Go for a walk (bring company just in case) in your potential area and keep an eye out for women who can give your their experiences and opinions on living in the area.
Say what you will, but the sixth sense is very real in women. After years of hyper-vigilance and safety awareness, your gut instinct is not something to be ignored. On your research stroll, listen to your gut and how the area makes you feel. If something feels off, perhaps you should look elsewhere.
Know your neighbours
Unless they have potential Ted Bundy vibes about them, get to know your neighbours! Not only is this useful for when you run out of sugar, but you will have an extra set of eyes on you and your safety. Criminals are also warier of breaking into a home that has a flow of people coming in and out, so hopefully you have neighbours you enjoy entertaining (even if it is just for a cup of tea or glass of wine) now and then. This also gives the appearance that there may be more than one person living with you, making you a less vulnerable target.
Know how to be (and look) secure
It has been proven that criminals are less likely to break into a home if there are visible security measures that have been put in place, such as cameras or beams. Make sure that these cameras are visible from the road and that they are activated with a light that makes it known that they are alive and kicking.
Most security cameras have features now that allow you to view your home from the safety of your phone. This gives you the ability to check the inside of your home before you enter - a great relief if you’re arriving at night and on your own. Surveillance is also going to wonders for your home insurance (hint hint, nudge nudge)
To gather as much information as possible, check out this blog on other tips to keep home invaders out.
Know how to get out
Knowing how to get out of your home is a daunting but essential piece of information you need to figure out from day one. Know that if somebody is in the front section of the house, that you have the option to get out of the back and vice versa. Heck, check the height of your windows and decide if you’d be able to risk a jump. Adrenaline does incredible things in crises but it can also fog the brain, so having a premeditated plan is your best bet for a swift exit.
If exiting the house or apartment is a bit of a tricky one, have a designated security room that has a deadbolt and enforced windows. Keep a panic button to alert the authorities and a bullhorn to trick home invaders into thinking they have set off a second alarm. The loud noise will alert neighbours and hopefully encourage the burglars to hop on out of there! Look into how to protect your home from the inside by heading here.
Your safety means the world to us and at Oneplan, so we hope that with this advice you can stay safe when living alone.
Yours in proactive insurance,