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Tips for staying safe in public parking lots

Looking for parking at a shopping centre can be extremely tedious and often, we are forced to park quite a distance from the entrance to a mall.

Whenever you venture into a public parking lot, consider what time it is and what time you envisage leaving.

In the day, that open parking space you find may seem like it’s as close as everyone else’s but at night, it may mean a longer, lonelier walk towards your isolated, poorly lit car. Always try and find a parking spot as close to the mall entrance as possible.

When parking in a public space, it is important to remember that once you park, it takes a little time to get your bag, unbuckle your kids and store your parking ticket. It’s much safer to do all this with your doors locked. 

Whether you’re alone or with passengers, always look around you before you get out of the vehicle and make sure any valuables are out of sight. Once out, lock the car and physically check that the doors are locked.  

Don’t use your phone – I see people stumbling out of their car on the phone and then diving back into the car, bum in the air, collecting bits and pieces. You are an easy target if you’re talking on your phone in a parking lot and many people have had their phones snatched out of their hands this way.

Worse still, sometimes parents are so immersed in their on-screen communications, that their kids are already halfway across the parking lot before the parent exits the vehicle.

Kids should only get out of the car when you tell them you are ready, and once out, they should walk right next to you, preferably holding your hand.

Teach your older children to memorise your phone number. For little kids, attach a wrist band with your phone number on it. 

Be careful around ATM machines – it still amazes me that people are conned out of money by allowing strangers to help them. Keep your handbag closed and always in sight or on your person. 

Lastly, when approaching your vehicle to leave, look around you. If anything looks out of order call centre security and have them walk you to your vehicle. 

Keep on working on your awareness, not only in public parking lots, but in and around all sorts of environments you may find yourself.

The only thing that truly matters is that you and your loved ones stay safe.