How women can protect themselves when out alone

This is a Kubotan for a key chain, a handheld, pointed self-defense weapon that can be held while walking.

By Kate Burgess

Q13 FOX News reporter

SEATTLE -- As police investigate the attacks on four women in four days in north Seattle, women should consider some tips to prevent becoming a target themselves.

Walking with confidence, making eye contact, and avoiding secluded spots can help keep you safe. But there’s a lot to think about before you step outside.

Personal safety experts say even wearing a hood makes one more vulnerable.

Donna Angevine, a personal safety consultant,  said, “Criminals are opportunistic. They will take the best, softest, easiest opportunity they can to take advantage of somebody.”

In rainy Seattle, jacket hoods make women “soft targets.” Walking with heads down, women can’t always see what’s on either side of them. Angevine said it’s important to be aware of what’s happening around you. Phones, tablets, and iPods can be a dangerous distraction.

“We’ve become this society of multitaskers, so we want to be texting while we’re running and walking, we want to be listening to music and podcasts and learning a new language while we’re out and about,” Angevine said. “Our first priority has to be our safety; also being aware of your surroundings.”

Because whether you know it or not, someone could be watching you

“They look for people who are distracted, they look for people who have the appearance of being weak, they look for people who look like they’re lacking in self-confidence,” Angevine said. “They want someone who’s not going to fight back.”

If you are attacked, Angevine said, running should be your first instinct -- putting as much distance as possible between yourself and the other person. And if they do get too close, always be ready with tools of the trade. Don’t leave the house without a flashlight; use it to light up your path or to temporarily blind an attacker.

Or, as Angevine said, put a Kubotan on your key chain -- a handheld, pointed self-defense weapon to hold while walking.

“You need to listen, you need to watch, you even need to smell,” she said.

Trust your instincts, have a plan, and always be prepared.

“You have to be willing to fight to the death if it comes down to the point that you are attacked,” Angevine said. “You need to be of that mindset that I’m going to be the one who perseveres.”

Seattle police have a few other tips to keep you safe:

-- Try not to carry a big purse with everything in it, just keep what you need. So if you’re heading to the grocery store, only take your debit card, not your whole wallet.

-- Plan your route and avoid shortcuts

-- Don’t travel alone. Walk with a friend or take a cab.

And if you are attacked and someone with weapon demands money, police say to just give it to them. Your life is more important.