Smart tips to stay safe on the streets

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Manitoba is a generally safe place to live in. The streets are clean, there is order and people generally follow the rules. But anywhere you live in the world, accidents happen and instances of crime or violence do occur. Reducing the factors that can put you in harm’s way cuts down the probability that these can happen to you or your loved ones.

Tips to stay safe on the streets:

Walk with purpose

  1. Stay alert. The most important ingredient to staying safe is being alert. When outside, walk confidently and look at where you’re going. Avoid wearing a headset or scrolling through your mobile. When you are distracted, you may not be able to hear something coming towards you or hear and see things that can alert you to oncoming dangers.
  2. Avoid empty and dark alleys/streets. Stick to busy, well-lit streets when walking outside. If you have no choice – for example, you are a shift worker who has to pass through a dark, empty street going to work – bring a flashlight and personal safety alarm. Also, get a buddy (or buddies) to walk with you. There is safety in numbers.
  3. Don’t use shoulder straps if possible. Carry your purse or bag between your arm and body. Bags with shoulder straps or those with straps crossing your body can be easily pulled and grabbed. Should it happen to you, don’t fight it. You can get injured. Your life is infinitely more precious than your possessions. But remember as much detail as you can about the incident and report it to the police.
  4. Dealing with panhandlers. Deal with panhandlers respectfully by saying “no, sorry” when you have nothing to give. If you want to help, carry food like granola bars or better yet, donate to charities that help people in need. If a panhandler becomes aggressive, stay firm. Say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you” and walk away if possible. This seldom happens but if the situation becomes dangerous and you’re in downtown Winnipeg, ask for help from a foot patrol for SafeWalk: 204-958-SAFE (7233) or report them to the Winnipeg Police Service at 204-986-6222 or local community patrols:
    • Exchange District: 204-791-3161
    • Osborne Village: 204-955-1259
    • West End: 204-295-7850
  5. Request SafeWalk after dark – If you are in the Winnipeg Downtown or Exchange District area after dark, call the Watch Ambassadors or the Exchange Patrol to walk you to your bus stop, home, or other destination (within the Downtown or Exchange District boundaries):
    • Downtown Safewalk: 204-958-SAFE (7233), Monday to Sunday, 8:00 am to midnight
    • Exchange District Patrol: 204-791-3161, Monday, noon to 4 pm; Tuesday to Saturday, 8:00 am to midnight

Cross the street safely

Cross only on designated pedestrian lanes. Look for traffic control signs and signals. When crossing:

  • Never step out from between parked vehicles to cross the street. Drivers might not see you.
  • Always pause and look left and right and then left again before you cross. Watch out for turning vehicles.
  • Push the button to activate the warning lights. Check the traffic light if you’re good to go. You will see a walking figure signal that means you are allowed to cross.
  • Walk quickly as possible when crossing. If you see the signal change to the orange hand before crossing, proceed only if the distance is not far or if there’s a median you can rest on.

Watch this video for more tips:

60 Second Driver – Crosswalks and pedestrian corridors, MB Public Insurance

Keep kids safe:

  • Tell your kids to stay away from roads. Young children should be accompanied by an adult when crossing the street.
  • Tell them to hold your hand while crossing the street.
  • Show older kids how to cross the street properly. Go for walks and demonstrate the proper way to cross and stay safe.

Cycling safety

There will be cyclists on the road especially during summer. Cyclists, motorists and pedestrians should practice the following:

  • Follow the rules of the road (read Bike safety for newcomers)
  • Stay alert for passing vehicles and bikes if you’re a pedestrian.
  • Watch out for passing cyclists when parking your car along the road and opening your door.

Car safety

Always follow road rules and park only on designated areas. Drive with doors locked and windows closed. Don’t pick up hitchhikers. When parking:

  • Don’t leave valuables in your car in plain view. If you must leave them in your car, store them in the trunk or any storage space where it will not be seen by passers-by.
  • Take note of parked or stopped vehicles when a driver is behind the wheel. The vehicle could move suddenly.
  • Make sure to occupy designated spaces in parking lots properly. Don’t go beyond the painted lines and take up more space than needed. Be considerate.
  • Remember not to block entrances to homes or buildings, emergency exits, bus stops, loading zones or fire hydrants. Don’t park near safety cones.
  • Look ahead and around you at all times, even in a parking lot.

For more safety tips, read What do you do when a burglar breaks into your home?
Sources: Pedestrian Safety, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI); Safety Tips, Downtown Winnipeg Biz; and 9 ways to stay safe when walking alone, Caryle Malchuk, Canadian Living.

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Community Resources

For more personal safety tips, go to Personal Safety from the Winnipeg Police Service website.

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