Living in the middle of Atlanta is undoubtedly one of the best experiences. There’s tons of good food to eat, lots of interesting events to attend, and plenty of cool new activities to try. However, along with these perks comes the issue of safety. Urban living goes hand-in-hand with increased crime and danger. Follow these tips to make sure you can continue taking advantage of all that the city has to offer!

1. Be mindful of your surroundings.

It’s easy to put in headphones and tune out the world around you, but it is very important to be aware of changes in your surroundings. When you’re walking home, make sure you look around periodically. Check to see if the same people have been walking in your direction. If you’re driving home, check to see if the same car has been following you for a long time. If so, take a drive around the block, or drive until you feel it’s safe to return home. In either instance, do not go home until you’ve lost the person you believe to be following you. You wouldn’t want to lead this person to where you live.

2. Don’t walk alone after dark.

Unfortunately, Atlanta is not a very walk-able city. This doesn’t stop many people from walking during the day, but after the sun goes down, it becomes much more dangerous to do so. If you absolutely have to, be sure to walk in a large group along a well-lit path. Ideally, it’d be best to take an Uber once it’s dark. The funds in your bank account may be running low and you may not want to pay the $8 fare, but you can’t put a price on getting home safely.

3. Secure your valuables.

Make sure that expensive items are out of sight. If you’re walking with a backpack, secure things like laptops and iPads in an internal pocket, and pull all zippers to one side of your backpack. It’s much harder for thieves to pickpocket items this way. If you’re driving, hide all valuables. The best way to go about this is putting everything in the trunk and keeping your car clutter free. If expensive belongings are left in plain sight, criminals will not hesitate to break your window and take them.

4. Be especially cautious in parking lots.

Try to park as close to the entrance of the store or restaurant you are visiting. Additionally, park in well-lit areas to ensure nothing happens to you or your car. It’s important to keep in mind that thieves will hide in neighboring cars, or even underneath your own car! Be sure to check your surroundings, backseat and trunk before leaving the lot. Exercise extra caution if there is a large van or suspicious vehicle parked next to the driver’s side door. If the parked cars on either side appear to be suspicious, it’s best to contact the non-emergency police number to have an official ensure that it’s safe to approach your vehicle.

5. Don’t allow people to tailgate into restricted access buildings.

While it’s considered common courtesy to hold the door for those behind you, feel free to skip that step in this instance. Whenever you enter a secure campus or residential building, make sure you are 100 percent positive the person or people behind you should be there. While the guy asking you to let him into your apartment building may appear to be totally harmless, you can’t blindly trust all people with a backpack on. I know that it’ll feel like you’re being rude, but letting in anybody who asks to be let in can lead to compromising the safety of those around you.

6. Carry pepper spray and know how to use it.

In the event of a face-to-face encounter with a dangerous person, make sure that you’re prepared! Simply carrying pepper spray won’t do any good if you’re not comfortable using it. Practice spraying it a few times so you don’t choke when it really matters! If you don’t own pepper spray, you can also hold your keys between your knuckles for maximum damage after throwing a single punch. If you’re not comfortable with either of these options, it’s useful to carry a whistle or noisemaker to attract attention and call for help.

Although these tips may have freaked you out, just remember that the majority of unsafe situations are avoidable! Follow these tips to help minimize risky encounters. Be careful and stay safe!