The art of solo safety

Moving out on your own can be an exciting experience and gives you access to your own space and freedom. It also highlights the importance of safety and security, especially if you are a woman. 

A 2019 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report ranked the best and worst cities in Canada to live in as a woman. Toronto was ranked as the second safest city in the country. Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge came in last and ranked 26th place.

Wherever you choose to live, you can never be too careful when it comes to your safety. 

DO get to know the area

Before deciding where to live, get to know the neighbourhood you might move into. 

Visiting the area in person can give you a better sense of how safe it feels. Going to see the area can give you the assurance that you might not get from photos or Google Maps alone.

Photo of Toronto
Photo by Kayla Speid

Scope out amenities like grocery stores and pharmacies, your nearest police station and the safest route to get home. 

Assess your building and its security system. Some apartment buildings may have front desk security. Complexes may have a neighbourhood watch group.

This also gives you the opportunity to get to know your possible neighbourhood and gives you an advantage in case you need to call for help.

You can also look at crime statistics in your area provided by your city’s public safety portal.

If you plan on living in Toronto, the Toronto Police Service provides a map of crime statistics in different neighbourhoods. It provides information on crimes like break and entry, robbery and auto theft.

DON’T cheap out on security equipment

Moving can be an expensive process. Although you may find various ways to save money, one area where you should not be frugal is your security. Investing in security equipment can ensure a safer living environment.

Installing security equipment in your new home can protect your physical safety and give you peace of mind. 

Photo of a lock
Photo by Franck

Installing a security camera can reassure you that you have complete supervision of your home. 

If you want to purchase something more affordable, there are cheaper alternatives to make your home more secure. 

Portable door locks are an additional lock you can add to almost any door, such as a front door or a bedroom door. They can be purchased for less than $20.

Motion sensor lights can be placed outdoors and lets you know if there is any movement nearby. They usually cost around $30.

You can carry a portable safety alarm that can ring loudly to deter an attacker and attract attention if you are in immediate danger. They can be purchased for less than $15.

DO know your resources

Make a list of different organizations and helplines that can provide support. Living on your own can be stressful, especially if you do not know who to reach out to for help. 

Photo of hands
Photo by Hannah Busing

If you ever feel unsafe or want someone to talk to, there are many non-emergency organizations you can contact for resources or emotional support. 

The Ministry of the Solicitor General has a Home Security Audit Guide with a checklist of home security tips and tools. The guide also provides information on how to keep your home safe during vacations and what makes your home a burglary risk. 

The guide also provides information on how to examine deadbolt locks on your doors, as well as safety information regarding at-risk doors and windows. 

The 211 Ontario helpline has a live chat feature that can refer you to different organizations for help or resources. You can contact them to find organizations for your specific situation. 

The Distress Centres of Greater Toronto helpline is a 24/7 emotional support service. They also have a multilingual distress line that can accommodate eight different languages such as Urdu, Spanish, and Mandarin.

The Gerstein Crisis Centre has a 24/7 support line. They also have a team who will meet up with you to ensure your safety if you live in the downtown Toronto area. 

DON’T overshare 

If you broadcast that you live alone too much, you could be putting yourself in danger. You do not know where this information may go or who it will reach. 

Do share your information with people you trust. It can be a partner, members of your family, a neighbour or a couple of close friends. It’s important to have a trusted group of people know where you are in case of an emergency. 

Let people you’re close with know your general weekly schedule, so they have an idea of where you are or how to reach you. 

Another way to ensure your security is to give a trusted person a spare key. You can copy keys at a locksmith, and many hardware stores have a key copying service available.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police.

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