Parking Garage Survival Guide: Tips for Using Parking Garages
A parking garage, similar to a dog, can be a man’s best friend. It’s always there, waiting for you, and its convenient location allows you to park your car so you can run errands, go to work and maybe even grab a late-night dinner.
Even though parking garages can be your best friend, they can also remind you of a horror movie. You’ve probably seen a few scenes that give you the chills when the soon-to-be-victim enters a dark desolate parking garage — alone. After a few minutes of walking with a seemingly absent mind, the killer, monster or ghost strikes without warning. We tried to warn the victim, but unfortunately he or she couldn’t hear our screams and yells through the TV. Instead, we’re stuck watching the horror unfold wondering, “What were they thinking when they went in there? Clearly something bad was going to happen.”
There’s a reason why a lot of horror movie scenes take place in parking garages. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics , 11.2 percent of violent and property crimes occurred in parking lots and garages from 2004 to 2008. But, there’s good news: there are precautions you can take to put a dent in those staggering statistics.
- Be alert
Most accidents can be avoided if we are all a little more alert. Make it a point to keep your eyes open and constantly scan your surroundings. And keep your ears alert, as well – no cell phone or headphones to distract you or drown out potentially important noises. Be alert both when you’re walking into and out of the facility and when you’re parking or driving out of the garage. Just paying attention to other drivers, people who are on foot in the lot, and anything off about your surroundings will keep you safer than most people.
- Be careful while using elevators or stairs
Stairs and elevators are great places to get trapped with a person who wants to harm you. This piece of advice is especially important for women, but even men can get trapped in stairwells or elevators with a predator or thief. It’s almost impossible to hear someone in these sections of the parking garage, which is why you must keep an eye out in these areas when you’re alone.
- Consider changing your shoes
Again, this tip is especially important for women, who are more often targets for thieves and worse predators in parking garages. If you wear heels or flats that you can’t run in to work, consider changing into sneakers before you go pick up your car. Not only will your feet be more comfortable, but you’ll also be able to run if you see someone suspicious.
- Carry items for your protection
When walking into potentially dangerous areas, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst with pepper spray and a personal noisemaker. (Be careful, though, because pepper spray is not allowed in all states or countries.) Even just making a lot of noise if someone tries to grab or rob you can be a deterrence; most predators will target only people who look vulnerable and unprepared.
- Check common hiding spots
The National Safety Commission notes that you should make a habit of scanning behind, in front of, under and inside your car as you’re walking up to it. In addition, it’s a good idea to be wary of large trucks and vans parked directly next to your car. Most likely, there’s nothing off about trucks and vans in your average parking garage. But kidnappers have used them as an easy way to shove a target inside and drive off.
- Lock your doors and leave
Probably the most important way to protect yourself is to lock your doors immediately – before you even secure your seat belt – and leave right away. If you need to buckle a child into a seat, get in the back seat with the child and shut and lock the door before buckling him/her in. Then look around before you get out to get into your seat. People who sit around in a parking garage and take their time before driving away – fiddling with the radio or a GPS – just make themselves targets.
Photo credit: Pierre-alain Münger Via Flickr