I want to approach a topic that, is near and dear to my heart. At the risk of sounding misogynistic, it is just a proven fact that men are generally stronger than women physically. Now I know what some may say, and despite all those movies that show the Angels of Charlie kicking the butt of every single person (male or female) that is just not the case in real life. There are those exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, it is wholly possible for a man to overpower a woman. (Certainly, arguments can be made on the opposite with the mental or the emotional aspect of things).

Likewise, most self-reliance information out there seems to assume that everyone is part of a family with a mom, a dad, and their 2.5 kids with their dog Sparky. Or, if not that, an extended family that includes cousins, uncles, and a grandpapa. Somehow, someway, the picture presented always includes a man.

I have a very independent-minded daughter of mine, who likes to do things on her own. And many times she doesn’t include a guy being a part of her plans. The truth is,  there are a lot of women alone out there, like my sweet daughter, who are also yearning to be more self-reliant, and it often seems like they are left out of the equations.

Whatever the reason may be that the kindlier and gentler gender may be alone there are quite a few steps that can be taken that can even out the playing field when it comes to providing for oneself, in good times and in bad. So for those who are living alone, here are several specific ways you can level or have the advantage on that “playing field”. Not that these tips are only for women.  Many of them are important for any person who wishes to be prepared, and especially for the females, you know who are living alone.

Top 10 Self-Reliant Strategies for the Woman (or Man) Living Alone

1. Know how to defend yourself. One of the things that get anyone into trouble (especially women) is that they place themselves in vulnerable places where a surprise attack can happen. Classes geared specifically towards women are the best if you need a crash course. Of course, if you’re already a black belt in martial arts, all the better!  If you can find a recurring class that lets you spar with a bigger “attacker” this will help the moves become more natural for you. Know how to play to your strengths and to the attacker’s weaknesses.

2. Learn to use a weapon. And be comfortable using it! If you decide to purchase a firearm, get some instruction and go to the range frequently to optimize your skills and aim. If you aren’t comfortable with guns, your weapon of choice can be something else; just make sure you have a way to defend yourself. Consider pepper spray or a stun gun such as this one that doubles as a flashlight). Heck, even a can of wasp spray has a long-range and can do some very painful damage. Remember, anything with the right imagination and application can be used as a weapon.

3. Be extra vigilant with your home security. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you have ample lighting wherever you live, and if possible cameras that continually record. Some that are obvious for all to see, as well as a few that they can miss if the attacker is determined. Get a motion sensor alarm that is loud, and has alarming sounds, like a vicious dog barking up a storm. Even consider getting a dog.  It does not have to be a big dog; my little Schnauzer is a great early warning system! Install high-quality lock stops for all your doors. and be sure you have fortified windows as well.

4. Don’t make it obvious your house belongs to a woman alone. We all want to show our individuality wherever we lay our heads, however, you might want to consider toning down the pink and frilly girlie stuff in the front yard. You can also want to get a pair of used men’s work boots at the Goodwill, get them dirty, and leave them beside the door as though someone just took them off to go inside.  And for the love of Pete, don’t get those stick figure families for your vehicle’s back window to represent you and several pets. Instead of being cute, it is announcing who you have in your life. And if they aren’t family or close friends, they should be left in the dark about that aspect of you.

5. Be careful what you say.  Obviously, your closest neighbors will be aware that you live alone. That will inevitably be the case when you live anywhere for a longer period of time. But for the Average Joe out there you want to keep them guessing. In this world of ours, you must naturally assume that you are being spied on in some way (by the government, or a peeping tom, either way). Many stalkers first became interested in their victims in the most innocuous of settings. Eliminate as many of the things someone who doesn’t know you could use to get to know you, without you knowing. Court records have shown that some stalkers were repairmen, pizza delivery guys, and mechanics who realized that the woman they became obsessed with lived alone. As well, in the event of an emergency, you do not want people to remember that you mentioned having a year’s supply of food in the basement. You don’t want to be or make yourself a target.

6. Learn to use tools. Don’t be afraid to fix things that you can learn, or undertake. Being able to repair things yourself is a big part of being self-reliant. Practice makes the skill of fixing things permanent! Home Depot and other home improvement centers offer workshops and YouTube is chock full of videos that teach people how to fix something. If you do have to call a repair person, hang out and watch, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, so you can do it the next time it breaks.

7. Learn to change a tire. Or replace the filters on your furnace, or fix that gutter on the edge of your roof. When it comes to auto readiness, a flat is one of the most common vehicular issues that will leave you stranded. Many women (and men these days) feel scared and vulnerable on the side of the road while waiting for AAA to come and change their tire for them. It also would not hurt to have a can of “fix a flat tire” stuff.  Using that, you can make a temporary repair and get on your way quickly.

8. Be prepared in an emergency situation.  Should a disaster or civil unrest occur, one of the most dangerous things you can do is set out on foot, even if you did have a strapping young man with ya! If at all possible, hunker down, and see if you can wait it out if anything else. You’ll be safer if you stay put, at least in the short run. Have the supplies you need in place so that you can stay home and wait out the chaos.

9. Avoid attracting attention to your home during an emergency. Your goal is to avoid attracting attention to you, your car, or your home, so no matter how well-prepared you are, don’t be the one with the flashy Bentley in the driveway or the only house on the street with lights blazing from the windows. Look like you are like the rest, disguise your preparation so that others who hadn’t, won’t give you or your location another thought. Invest in some blackout curtains and even consider lining your windows with heavy black garbage bags and duct tape to keep light from escaping.

10. Plan to fortify your home if complete chaos erupts. Especially for those who have bought their own homes, but you can take measures to fortify even if you are in an apartment or condo. In advance of something happening, plan how you will fortify your place. Consider a professional-grade bar for the doors, some decorative grillwork for lower story windows and sidelights, or even some plywood that is pre-drilled and cut to fit windows and sliding glass doors so you can cover them if it’s a major event that isn’t going away any time soon.

The Overall TakeAway

You shouldn’t have to live in fear, and when you truly prepare, you don’t have to. This list is only the tip of the iceberg, but I wanted to get this out to all those who could potentially use it now. I hope you will take this and use it to formulate your plan for staying safe during an emergency.  Even build upon from where I left off! While you may not be as gruff and scary looking as a 275-pound hunk of testosterone, you can still defend yourself and what is yours will some advanced planning and training.

Do not be discouraged if you aren’t part of a large family or group. Singleness is a fact for many nowadays. For you, in particular, it is still very important to prepare and perhaps even more so.  Go ahead and adapt all the self-reliant information you find here to fit your personal circumstances. You don’t have to wait for anyone else, be the hero of your story, not the damsel in distress who needs to be rescued!