The US is a dream destination for so many people around the world. But with protests, gun violence, and natural disasters such as wildfires always in the news, more and more immigrants are realizing how essential it is to make safety their number one priority in their newly adopted country.
Your safety and security depends on where you choose to start your American dream. Quality of life, crime rates, and weather conditions vary widely across the nation. For example, more crimes are committed in urban, metropolitan areas than in rural ones.
How safe is the USA?
The US is no stranger to crime. The Global Peace Index of 2019, which measures the peacefulness and general safety of 163 nations worldwide, ranks the US 128th.
But, when you look closer at the statistics, US crime rates have been falling steadily since the 1990s. With this decrease in crime comes an increase in foreigners’ trust in America as a safe place to work, live and travel. According to the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office, there were 37 million foreign tourists in the US in 2019. British nationals alone account for 3.8 million visitors to the country per year.
No matter if you are an immigrant, asylum seeker, or native-born American, you can help keep America’s reputation as a safe place to work, live and travel by following the tips below. Please keep in mind that these tips are not to scare you but to avoid your becoming another crime statistic in a country with which you may not be entirely familiar.
Pay attention to your surroundings
Everyone these days walks around either looking down at their phone or with earbuds in to listen to music. Little do these unsuspecting people know that they are prime targets for theft and possibly violence. Therefore, we advise that you always stay alert to your surroundings, especially in large towns and cities. In addition, keep your belongings close to you with money belts or anti-theft purses. Men should carry their wallets in their front pocket to avoid pickpocketers. If you do get robbed (also known as ‘mugging’), just give them your belongings. Fighting with the robbers could result in violence.
Visiting a popular tourist site in the U.S. or using the local transit system? Be hypervigilant here, as theft is more commonplace in these areas. Do not leave your bags unattended either, giving a thief the perfect opportunity to steal your belongings quickly. Always take your bag(s) with you wherever you go or, if you are with someone, ask him or her to watch your bags. Do not ask someone you do not know to look after your bags.
Do your research
Read up on the area you’re staying in. You should be aware of any recent incidents that have happened in the neighborhood or city. Laws also differ between states so if you’re constantly on the move, you should do your research on every new location you visit.
If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, for example, it’s worth noting that the US – in general – is a very safe and progressive nation. However, smaller and often rural communities tend to be more conservative when it comes to same-sex couples. So again, do your research beforehand.
In addition, the legality of marijuana varies between states, so it is essential to learn the laws of the state you are in. In California, recreational use is legal, but other states may have stricter laws. Stay away from other drugs. Anything other than weed is considered illegal under state and federal law. Simply having illegal drugs on your person can get you deported or put in jail.
Be street smart
Always think twice before you put yourself in a vulnerable position. Lock doors to deter intruders and never give out your Social Security Number to strangers. Only use ATMs in safe areas, during the day, or in well-lit surroundings at night. Remember to stay aware of your surroundings. Do not give anyone your PIN, or personal identification number, which accesses your bank account. Only you and you alone should know that number.
Try to avoid taking shortcuts at night if you don’t know a neighborhood very well. Do not walk through small, dark alleyways. Google Maps will usually direct you along the safest routes.
You should not only stay alert to your surroundings but also to the local culture of the area. Everyday life and points of view in California, on the west coast, are very different from everyday life and points of view in Iowa, which is located in the Midwestern part of the United States. It is imperative to do your research on the local culture and learn about the issues that may be affecting the community you will be living in.
Pay attention to weather warnings
Certain parts of the country are often victim to extreme weather events like earthquakes, storms, forest fires, or tornadoes. Earthquakes and forest fires often happen out west while tornadoes and storms tend to occur in the Midwest. States along the Atlantic coast, such as North Carolina, and the Gulf of Mexico, such as Florida, tend to experience the highest number of hurricanes.
To adequately plan, look up weather forecasts online for your target area before you travel. The impending arrival of a natural disaster will be featured everywhere, from weather websites to the national and local news stations, in order to give residents fair warning. Remember that travel to the affected areas may be halted as well, so you may not be able to fly or take a bus or train to your destination if there is a severe weather warning. The weather in the US can change drastically, so don’t just check by looking out your window.
Don’t go off the radar
You should always let someone know where you are at any one time should any problems occur. Share your plans with your family or friends, text or call them when you arrive at your destination, and give them the name and address of the place where you will be staying. If you were to ever get into trouble, this information will allow them to come to your aid as soon as possible.
Let Golden Beacon USA help you!
Are you looking for more guidance when it comes to learning about life in America? Golden Beacon USA is here to help make your transition as easy as possible, even in the midst of COVID-19! Our Resource Referrals and e-learning videos on American culture and resources are here to help make your transition as easy as possible! Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!