Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Both during a grid-down disaster or in your everyday life, you may find yourself driving through a dangerous area. There are dangerous neighborhoods throughout the world, and odds are you’re already thinking of a certain neighborhood in your town or city.
The day may come when you get lost and find yourself in the wrong part of town, or you simply have no choice but to go through that part of town. In case that ever happens, it’s important that you do so while exercising caution and following these tips.
1. Plan Your Route
The first tip for traveling through a dangerous area is to not drive through one at all! This can be done through careful planning. Since your GPS is not going to discriminate between a good neighborhood and a bad one, knowledge of all the dangerous places in your town or city is key.
If you’re in a new city, research the bad neighborhoods beforehand so you can avoid them.
2. Keep Your Vehicle Secured Before Entering The Neighborhood
Before you enter a dangerous neighborhood, secure your vehicle. In other words, roll up your windows and lock your doors. This might seem obvious, but if you’re not used to locking your doors after getting into your car, it’s easy to forget they’re unlocked. The physical barrier your vehicle provides between you and the outside world is your first line of defense.
3. Weigh the Risk vs. Reward
Ask yourself, why are you in this bad neighborhood to begin with? Are you taking a shortcut? Did you come here by accident? Were you trying to escape a riot or heavy traffic?
Regardless, always weigh the risk vs. reward before driving into a bad neighborhood. If the reward is escaping another dangerous situation, then, by all means, go through the bad neighborhood, but if you’re just trying to get somewhere faster, then unless you’re rushing to the hospital, it’s just not worth it.
Dangerous neighborhoods mean dangerous people. And if you look like you don’t belong, then you’re just asking for trouble. Speaking of that…
4. Try to Blend In
You must try to blend in as much as possible. Even the most subtle of differences between you and the neighborhood will cause you to stand out, especially when traveling during the day.
Avoid doing anything that can attract unnecessary attention to you. This means being quiet, keeping your movements down, trying to wear the same clothes as the people in the environment, avoiding eye contact, keeping your head down, and so forth.
5. Keep Any and All Valuables Concealed
Examples of valuable items that could cause people to attack you include money, jewelry, firearms, briefcases, electronics, etc. Anything you have with you that is of perceived value must be kept hidden.
If you’re in your car, this means that you must keep things hidden in compartments. Anything that’s too large to be kept in the compartment should be covered by a blanket (one reason to include a blanket or tarp in your vehicle).
On your person, this means that any valuable items must be kept hidden underneath your clothing or in a backpack (although beware that even a backpack could invite a mugging, so consider carrying an old, raggedy-looking backpack).
And if you are attacked, be prepared to defend yourself. Which means you should…
6. Have a Hidden Weapon Within Easy Reach
Any weapons you have with you should be kept concealed, but they also need to be kept within quick reach. In the event of a carjacking, which can happen quickly and unpredictably, you must have the ability to react with lethal force before you’re attacked or pulled from your vehicle.
If you’re on foot, make sure you can draw your concealed carry weapon quickly. This means DO NOT store your weapons in your backpack (off body carry is usually dangerous anyway). Instead, keep them hidden in your pockets or in your waistband where they can be quickly drawn. Here are some discreet weapons you might want to carry with you.
If you’re in your vehicle, keep your weapon somewhere you can grab it immediately. Keeping it under your seat or locked in your glove compartment is fine most of the time, but in a dangerous neighborhood, you may not be able to access it quickly enough.
7. Do Not Stop Walking or Driving
The moment you enter a bad neighborhood, your goal is to get out of that neighborhood as quickly as possible. Don’t stop to get gas, take a break, grab a bite to eat, or ask for directions. Just keep driving (or walking) until you’re safe.
If you have to stop because of traffic, leave the space of a vehicle and a half in front of you so you’ll have room to escape if someone attempts a carjacking. You should also stick to the lane closest to the center of the road so you’re less likely to be boxed in.
If someone hits you from behind but the situation seems suspicious, stay in your car with your door locked and call 911.
This article might seem a little paranoid, but there are roughly 50,000 car-jackings and 300,000 robberies in the United States every year. Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean it never will.