As soon as I became a mom, protecting multiple people instead of just one, I became ever more aware of the dangers that simple things like walks and grocery shopping can bring. Here are a few of the products and tactics that I use to protect myself and my kids while I’m out of the house!
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Safety Tips for Walking with a Stroller
1. Carry a can of pepper gel with you
While pepper spray only works in close contact, this pepper gel spray can shoot up to 25 feet! It comes with a bracket to mount it in your house but I use the bracket to keep it snuggly fit in the cup holder of my stroller. This way, if a dog or a person ever were to come at us, I can pepper gel them before they get close to my kids.
2. Look for mom walking groups that you can join
Walking with other people is one of the best ways to stay safe walking with a stroller. If you don’t have mom friends nearby to walk with, I highly suggest checking for any mom walking groups in your area on Facebook! I was amazed at how many I saw when I searched it myself!
3. Walk with a dog if you can
Dogs are a huge deterrent for anyone who would try to harm you or your child. Even if you don’t have a dog yourself, maybe offer to walk your neighbor’s dog for them once or twice a week! That way, it helps both you and them!
4. If you use headphones, only every put in one at a time
It’s best to not use headphones at all when you are out walking or running in public. But if you do need to take a phone call or you like listening to something while you walk, never use more than one headphone at a medium volume. This will allow you to still listen for any possible threats.
5. Stay off your phone
Any distraction is a danger when you are out and about in public. A phone is a major distraction that will keep you from noticing the details of your surroundings and any potential threats. Definitely bring your phone in case of emergencies, but otherwise make sure it stays in your stroller.
6. Don't go out at night
As a general rule, it’s never good to go out at night. This is especially true for women and for moms who have little ones to protect. So once it’s dark out, do your best to try and stay in your home.
7. Let people know where you are going
Whenever you go anywhere alone, make sure somebody knows where you are going. If you have a Garmin smart watch you can also look into their live tracking feature. My Garmin watch sends out a text with my live location to selected contacts if I hold one of the buttons. This feature gives me a lot of peace knowing that I can get my location to my loved ones quickly if something were to happen.
8. Teach your kids to notice their surroundings too
While you are out walking, keep older kids involved with questions that help them learn their surroundings and their way around your neighborhood. Not only would this help them get home if they ever got lost somehow, but it’s also extremely valuable to teach your kids to be aware of what is going on around them.
9. Keep reflectors on your stroller and walk into traffic
Walking against traffic is always the safest option to let drivers see you and for you to also keep an eye on them. As an extra precaution it’s good to make sure you have reflectors on your stroller. If you stroller doesn’t come with any, you can easily add waterproof reflector stickers to it.
10. ALWAYS bring snacks and drinks
If you want to stay safe from the wrath of hangry children on your walks, always make sure you have a few snacks on hand! Graham crackers are our favorite walking snack!
Safety Tips for Parking Lots
1. Always check your surroundings first
Before you get out of your car and before unbuckling car seats, be sure to check your surroundings. If there is someone nearby that you don’t feel good about, leave or find a new spot. Trust your gut. Fear exists to keep us safe and your gut instincts are there for a reason. Make sure you do the same thing when you are coming out of the store and buckling kiddos back into their seats.
2. Bring an Equalizer
As a mom, you are in charge of protecting both you and your kids if something were to happen. That’s a big job to do and you may need something to level the playing field. There are tons of self defense weapons to choose from, anywhere from concealed carrying, to tasers, to pepper spray, to key chain alarms. Whatever you choose to carry with you, make sure that you are trained and comfortable with it and have used it before. I bought this three pack of pepper spray to make sure I always have one in my pocket, no matter what jacket I end up wearing out.
3. Consider getting in the car to buckle the carseat
Being hunched over your car buckling your child into their car seat can take a lot of time. All that time, it’s difficult to stay aware of your surroundings and what could be going on behind you. If you are able to crawl in the back of your car to buckle your little one, this is a much safer option. If this isn’t an option for you, try out number seven on this list!
4. Lock the car as soon as you get in
As a mom, it’s likely you are juggling sippy cups, snacks, and toys as soon as you get back in your car. Before you start digging for snacks though, make sure to lock your doors.
5. Get your keys out before you walk out of the store
Leaving stores, your hands are probably full of shopping bags and children. Rather than having to set your children and all your bags down to dig through your bag, have your keys out in your hand ready to go. This avoids the vulnerability that comes with not being able to get into your car quickly and having yourself distracted from your surroundings by your missing keys.
6. Stay in places of high visibility
Always try to park and walk in places of high visibility, where there are lots of other lights and people to help you if something were to happen. If you happen to go out when it is getting dark, make sure to park underneath a light in the parking lot. They often have security cameras that will deture people from lurking there.
7. Park next to a cart return
Not only is parking next to a cart return far more convenient, it also can be a whole lot safer. Park the side of your car with your car seat next to the cart return. Then when you open the door, you have blocked off behind you with the cart return and one side with the open door. Now, rather than having to watch your back in three directions, you only have to keep your eyes on one.
8. Use the "square"
Believe it or not, your gas flap is a powerful tool to keeping your kids safe in a parking lot. As you are loading groceries into your car, instruct your kids to touch “the square” on the car until you are done. You can also turn it into a game as they get a little older and ask them to time you while they wait! Try to beat your time each time you go out!
9. Don't get distracted
The main danger in parking lots is your own distractions, your phone being one of the biggest distractions. Keep your phone put away and stay aware of your surroundings. This is so important in order to set a good example for your kids as well.
10. Make eye contact and excude confidence
Making eye contact demonstrates confidence and tells any possible predators that you are not an easy target. Instead of looking away and avoiding eye contact like most people do, make a point to make eye contact with anyone nearby as you walk through the parking lot. If they are preying waiting for an easy target , it won’t be you.
The world is a scary place to be and as a mom with young kids. We have the responsibility to make sure our cubs are kept safe in this crazy world. I know that task can feel daunting at times, but I hope I was able to help you develop some ideas that will keep both you and your children safer each time you are out and about. Moms gotta look out for each other! Stay safe out there!