13 People Share Their Best “Street Smart” Tips That Could Help Save Your Life

Yuya Tamai via Flickr

There is a big difference between being smart and being street smart. Someone can have all the knowledge and book smarts there is, but that’s not necessarily enough to keep that person safe in daily life.

Previously, we’ve shared tips about what to do if you think you’re being followed. While those tips can be life-saving, it would be even better not to be followed in the first place.

One Reddit user asked, “What are the best ‘street smart’ tips you can give?” Reddit users shared great tips like what to look for in your surroundings and how to prevent yourself from looking like an easy target. Scroll down for some potentially life-saving tips.

  1. Headphones

    Reddit user LinuxPariah wrote:

    DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES!!! You make yourself an easy target by making it so even the most clod footed mugger can sneak up on you.

  2. A Lot of Great Tips

    charliefuckstick added:

    Windows are mirrors, use them to see who’s behind you. Act like you know where you’re going. Swing wide around corners. Don’t show off anything you’re not willing to lose. The nicer you look, the bigger of a mark you become – look like you’ve got nothing and people will assume you’ve got nothing. Stay focused on the sound of your footsteps and you’ll hear nearby footsteps too.I lived in an area where people get mugged regularly.

  3. Don’t Ignore Your Feelings

    Another Reddit user shared:

    Situational awareness. Look up the OODA loop and learn it. Notice who stands out, who looks out of place. If you get a bad feeling about a situation or person DO NOT ignore it. Know your exits. Even if you have a weapon yourself, getting out without having to fight is best.

  4. Never Let Someone Take You to a 2nd Location

    Spook_fuzz answered:

    if someone is attempting to take you to a secondary location by car or something, fight like your life depends on it, because it does. Poke their eyes out. Punch them in the gonads. Bite them, scratch them, anything you can think of, do it to get yourself free. There are no rules when it comes to this situation. Some specific things you can do are screaming “fire” Or “help my child”, this will catch more attention than just plain “help”. Try to vomit on them, this may distract them and make them loosen their grip so you can get away. Even if it doesn’t distract them, they now have your DNA all over them. If you manage to free yourself, run like absolute hell. Once you feel that you’re far enough away, get farther or try to go into a public place like a convenience store or a cafe. If they do manage to get you in the car, you’re most likely not gonna get out, so leave your DNA (pull out your hair, itch off dead skin, cough or puke in the car) everywhere. This will make the investigation (if the police conduct one) a lot easier. To avoid this situation in the first place, walk like you’re on a mission and try to look confident. If you think someone’s following you, get out your phone and pretend you’re answering a call with your mom or parent. Act like you have a curfew or have to be home to do something soon, so your mom/parent is expecting you. This may deter the person following you.

  5. “Pullers”

    NicNac_PattyMac shared:

    Be weary of women who approach you at a bar and immediately try and get you to go to another bar.Those people are called “pullers” and they are paid to do it.

  6. Street Lights

    twiggymagpie explained:

    you can use street lights and other ambient lighting at night to see if people are closely following you from behind by the shadow cast when lights are at your back.if you smoke cigarettes, don’t light one outside a major public transit building/area unless you want to have people ask you for one. carry at least 10-20$ separate from your wallet or purse, in a place like a pocket or sock.

  7. Beware of Flyers

    BodySnag wrote:

    If you drive an SUV and you’re in a parking lot, beware if you get in and notice there’s a flyer under the small wiper on your back window. Many people get in and look in the rear view mirror as they start to back out; that’s when they see the flyer blocking their view. They pop out to grab it, leaving the engine on and the door open for the second it takes, and that’s when someone jumps in and car jacks you.

  8. “Carry a Loose Dollar”

    Spawn95 shared:

    Don’t fumble through your pockets.If you think your being followed go into a store calmly and chat with the workers. Carry a loose dollar bill or two if your someone that likes to give money to people. Less likely to target the dude that handed a single dollar than the guy who pulled a dollar out of a wallet full of 20’s

  9. Avoid Fancy Clothes

    Lulu_42 added:

    Walk like you know where you’re going, make eye contact with strangers, and don’t wear fancy clothes/purses/backpacks when walking around the neighborhood or using public transport.

  10. Which Side of the Sidewalk to Use

    kannakantplay explained:

    I’m not that street smart, but I learned from living in a busy-ish city: always walk on the side of the road that opposes traffic. This puts distance between you and a car that might be trying to follow you, and if you’re walking along a road that doesn’t have a sidewalk it gives you more time to react to oncoming traffic if they swerve or something.

  11. Don’t Look Like a Tourist

    NinNac_PattyMac added:

    Avoid gawking around. Screams tourist. Which screams money on them and no idea what to do in a situation.

  12. Don’t Use the Front Door

    MorganPlus4owner answered:

    When you’re in a mall or a big box store and you hear what may be gunshots, don’t go toward the front entrance. Instead, head toward the fire exits around the perimeter of the building. The shooter likely came in the front entrance and nobody will give you a hard time for setting off the door alarms in an emergency.

  13. Plan a “Way Out”

    badgerfishing explained:

    Always have 1-2 “ways out” planned in your head when you’re anywhere. The place I worked at had a shooting a few months before I worked there and I had to watch the footage. Nobody was killed (thank god) but it would’ve been a lot less dangerous had everyone thought of an exit plan.