Friday, July 15, 2011

Parking Garage Safety

I don't like parking garages.

There are too many places for people to hide - stairs, elevator or between cars.  The parking garages I have seen are often poorly lit and dingy.  Several years ago, a co-worker was attacked in a parking garage in broad daylight.  She was the HR Manager and had to go to the courthouse for an unemployment hearing.  A man approached her but she yelled and swung at him with her briefcase.  He was surprised by her reaction and ran away.

This morning I had to drop my daughter off at the community college for play practice.  I drove in the parking garage and there was a group of 4 men standing at the entrance.  My daughter looked at me and told me to keep driving and find another entrance.  I pulled in the nearest space because I was late for work and in a hurry.   We got out of our car and one man walked away from the group.  The remaining men stood at the entrance talking.  We walked through the exit  and went to the theater. 

Everything was fine but I believe I made a mistake. 

I should have went to another exit.  I made assumptions about the group due to the time of day (8:00 a.m.).  The men looked like college staff members because they were holding papers.  The men were casually dressed.  No one had an ID badge.  My assumptions could have been incorrect.

Here are a few tips for parking garage safety.

1. Awareness.  No headphones, cell phones or text messaging.
2. Know where you are going. 
3. Park near a light.
4. Have your keys ready.  Be ready to use your panic button alarm on your key chain.
5. Try not to be overburdened with packages or bags.
6. Lock your doors and keep your windows up.
7. Trust your instincts. 

Please add to the list.

9 comments:

Rank: 1st Kyu said...

Thanks for this great post! You can NEVER be too careful.
It reminds me of a similar situation I had using a bank machine. It was a Sunday afternoon, nobody around. I pulled into the empty bank parking lot and saw a young man (20's?) sitting on a bench alone outside the closed bank. My first instinct was that something wasn't right - but like you... I was in a hurry, wanted to get my $20 and get to my destination. As I parked I thought - "what would I do if he followed me into the bank?" Long story short - he did.
I went inside the bank and approached the machine and as soon as I started my transaction I heard the door open behind me. I immediately put my keys in my pocket to free up my hands, made eye contact and positioned myself so my back was not to him - at an angle with my feet in full ready stance should anything happen - every inch of me was ready to defend myself. He stood there for a moment and asked me if he could deposit an unsigned check. He left when I said 'No'.
Again, like you, I should have paid attention to my first instinct and not put myself in that position. He was standing inside the doorway, in essence, blocking my only exit in this situation. I've learned from that situation and am hyper aware of my surroundings at all times - even in broad daylight. I'll never put my personal safety at risk like that again.

Felicia said...

Great post, Michele. You hit it right on the head, I believe: awareness of your surroundings and trusting that "something just isn't right" feeling is so key. You aren't the only person who was aware that something could be amiss but forged ahead anyway - and you will certainly not be the last. Glad everything turned out OK for you, your co-worker and 1st Kyu!

Joshkie said...

If leaving work and or if the business has security do not hesitate to ask for an escort. Two is more secure than one.

We really don't mind.

Don't forget to check the back seat and the cargo space off SUV's before you open the door.

Also, don't hesitate to report suspicious persons to complex/building security. Most places have a no loitering/soliciting policy and will 'kindly' tell them to leave, if they have no business on property.

:-)
Josh

Joshkie said...

P.S. If the places you frequent have security have the contact # programed into your phone we will meet you at your vehicle. If the security company won't do this it might be because they feel this will put them under implied liability if something goes wrong. Check your state civil code, but usually most states have good samaritan laws that will protect them from lawsuits. They might need to be reminded of this.

Josh

Joshkie said...

P.S.S.

I also noticed there was no mention if the two if anyone reported the incidents to the authorities or security. A good description plus tracking of incidents can lead to apprehension of a suspect, or if nothing else an increase of security presence.

Banks especially take incidents like the one described very seriously.

Josh

Charles James said...

I would add that there are actually eight recommendations. Take number 7 and copy it above 1 and renumber.

Journeyman said...

Michele,

You've hit all the major points. Awareness and listening to that 'little voice' are both so important. In today's society, it is challenging to remain aware and vigilant without becoming paranoid. If you expect the absolute worst and believe everyone is a threat, you can actually miss the real danger signs.

Too often, we try to talk ourselves out of being cautious. It's silly since if we took an extra step for safety, it's not like anyone else would even know, so why are we embarrassed to do so?

It's all about balance. Good post.

Journeyman said...

p.s. I hate parking garages.

Michele said...

Thank you for your comments! I apologize for the delayed response.

1st Kyu: Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad everything was ok. I need to stop being in such a hurry. It seems like I am always rushing from one thing to another. Thanks again.

Felicia: Thanks!

Joshkie: Welcome and thank you for sharing your insights! Great reminder about asking for an escort. :)

Charles James: Agreed!

Journeyman: Thanks! You make a good point about the fine line between being vigilant and becoming paranoid.