Don’t be thrown off by the title of this article. New York City is a wonderful place, with really cool people. You can find some of the best food in the entire world, and there truly is no place like it. However, New York City is a large city, and there is crime. Here are some safety tips to keep yourself safe while you enjoy this wonderful city. Keep your wits about you, try to prepare as best as you can, stay safe, and you won’t get got. These safety tips can also be applied to other major cities, like Boston and Philadelphia.
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The Black Puffer Jacket
Okay, this tip only applies to the fall and winter time. I could swing a dead cat over my head in New York City, and every third person it hit would be wearing a black puffer jacket. I guarantee it. If you seek to blend in, and “look like a local” this is the surefire way to do it. It’s always a good idea to try and blend in with the crowd so that you don’t stand out too much, especially when traveling by yourself. I know how important fashion and self-expression are, but sometimes function trumps fashion when it comes to the question of safety. Sometimes being conspicuous can make you a target for crime. You can very easily spice up a simple black puffer jacket with a cute hat or a scarf.
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On Carrying Cash
When it comes to paying for subway and bus tickets, you should pay with cash. If you have a debit card that you can tap to pay with, you can use that when going through train turnstiles. It is possible to pay with your debit or credit card, but you run the risk of your financial information being stolen. You should also check the ticket machines for skimmers. Skimmers are plastic card readers that are attached to the slot where you swipe your card to pay for a ticket. If you can, use the “tap to pay function to avoid this. If you are going to carry cash, make sure to only carry as much as you need, or a very small amount in the case you lose it. When you make a purchase at a store, use your debit card to avoid misplacing any cash.
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“Winging It” Is Not a Great Idea
Sometimes it is fun to be spontaneous and to go where the wind takes you. However, that’s not always the safest plan, especially if you’re in a place you’ve never been before, and if you’re traveling by yourself. It’s always a good idea to have a plan. If you find yourself on the subway, make sure to stand with your back against a wall or a pole If you can, travel with someone who knows the area, or a group of people. There is definitely safety in numbers! Stay far away from the yellow line at the end of the platform. Another tip is to avoid Time Square. It is nice to visit, but there are much better places to your time in New York. There are a lot of tourist scams in Times Square, and the prices at shops and restaurants are inflated. If you find yourself in Times Square, avoid the people dressed up in costumes like Elmo. They are often very pushy. Lots of people make the mistake of confining themselves to Midtown, but there are other great neighborhoods to explore. I would recommend going to SoHo, Williamsburg, Chelsea, or Greenwich Village. All of these neighborhoods have vibrant nightlife, fun restaurants, and great places to experience.
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Self Defense Tools
In New York City, it is perfectly legal to carry pepper spray. The law says that pepper spray is legal for self-defense, as long as it is in a pocket-sized canister. There are some rules that apply to who is allowed to purchase and carry pepper spray, which you should brush up on if you are looking to carry. Pepper spray is off-limits to those under 18, and people who have committed prior felonies. Pepper spray blindness can last from thirty minutes up to two hours if it gets in someone’s eyes. When it comes to tasers, both law enforcement and civilians are allowed to carry them. However, civilians can only carry tasers designed for civilian use. The civilian model of the taser can hold a shock for about 30 seconds. Remember to aim away from yourself, and detonate the pepper spray from a distance.
If All Else Fails…
It is highly unlikely you will ever find yourself in a situation like this. Only use this tip if you are out of options. You must out-crazy the crazy. Nobody wants to deal with someone absolutely bonkers, not even criminals. Start hissing and foaming at the mouth when faced with an attacker. A personal favorite diversion tactic of mine is to start barking at people. The point of this is two-fold; one, you are drawing attention and witnesses to a situation, and two, you are temporarily distracting and dissuading the attacker. Finally, a good tool to have in your toolkit of life is the knowledge of throwing a solid right hook (or left hook if you’re left-handed). This is an important thing to know even if you are not traveling to New York City. Clench your fist tightly, and make sure your thumb is not enclosed under your other fingers. The thumb must remain outside of the fist to avoid being broken. Strike your target using your knuckle bones.