10 Smart Survival Strategies for the Woman Living Alone

Avatar Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
10 Smart Survival Strategies for the Woman Living Alone

Most preparedness information out there seems to assume that everyone is part of a family with a mom, a dad, three kids, and a dog. Or, if not that, an extended family that includes brothers, uncles, and a grand-pappy. Somehow, the picture presented always includes a man.

The truth is, that is not always the case; there are a lot of women alone out there who are also preparing, and it often seems like they are left out of the equations.

There are all sorts of reasons that a woman might be living alone. She may have just left the nest and is out there joining the adult world with her first job and apartment. She may be divorced or widowed. She may not have children, or those children may be off raising families of their own. Whatever the case, family-based preparedness suggestions don’t always apply to the woman living alone.

10 Smart Survival Strategies for the Woman Living Alone | Backdoor Survival

Because of that, I felt it long overdue to step up and address specific survival strategies for the woman living alone. 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 female prepper that is living alone.

10 Survival Strategies for the Woman (or Man) Living Alone

1. Be extra vigilant with home security. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure that you have motion-sensor lights at all of the entrances to your home and property. Get a dog. It does not have to be a big dog; my little Yorkie is a great early warning system!. Install high quality locks and be sure you have a fortified door frame. You can read more home security tips here.

2. Learn to use a weapon. If you decide to purchase a firearm, get some instruction and go to the range frequently to optimize your skills. 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.

3. Take a women’s self-defense class. 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.

4. Learn to use tools. Being able to repair things yourself is a big part of being self-reliant. Practice makes perfect. Home Depot and other home improvement centers offer workshops each weekend that teach customers how to make something. It is a great way to get your feet wet. Also, if something in your home breaks and is in need of repair, search YouTube for some related repair videos and give it a shot yourself. If you do have to call a repair person, hang out and watch, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

5. Be careful what you say. Obviously your closest neighbors will be aware that you live alone. But when you’re out and about, don’t broadcast it. Many a stalker first became interested in a victim in the most innocuous of settings. 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 a target.

6. Don’t make it obvious your house belongs to a woman alone. While you shouldn’t need to be afraid to be feminine, you might want to tone down the pink girlie stuff in the front yard. You can also purchase a large 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 heaven’s sakes, don’t get those stick figure families for the back window of your vehicle to represent you and several pets. Be discreet.

7. Learn to change a tire. If you don’t already know how to do this, be sure that you know how to change your own tire. A flat is one of the most common vehicular issues that will leave you stranded. My friend Daisy from The Organic Prepper wouldn’t allow her daughters to drive the car alone until they could change the tire in the driveway using the factory jack. Many women have felt 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 to hunker down. Should a disaster or civil unrest occur, one of the most dangerous things you can do is set out on foot. If at all possible, you’ll be safer if you stay put. 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 your home, so no matter how well-prepared you are, don’t be the only house on the street with lights blazing from the windows. 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. In advance of something happening, plan how you will fortify your house. 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 hullabaloo.


The Final Word

I hope you will take this list and use it to formulate your plan for staying safe during an emergency. While you may not be as strong and scary looking as a 250 pound hunk of macho, 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. For you, it is still very important to prepare and perhaps even more so. Go ahead and adapt the preparedness information that’s out there to fit your personal situation, and be the hero of your story, not the damsel who needs to be rescued!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Slime Quick Spare Tire Inflator: All spare tire fix-its are not created equal. Or so I learned. Apparently some types coat the inside of the tire with some sort of goo that eliminates the tire from being repaired the proper way. So, after consulting with the Subaru dealer and reading a lot of review, this is what I settled on. Truly, you should always have a can of this or something similar in your car.

Door Bar Pro Steel Door Security Bar: For extra security, consider a heavy duty security bar across you door. This one is easy to install and has a lifetime warranty.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: This light is awesome. I use mine downstairs as well as on my stairway and when I get up in the middle of the night, they come on automatically. They are quite unobtrusive and give off a ton of light. Runs for a year on 3 D size batteries.

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27 Responses to “10 Smart Survival Strategies for the Woman Living Alone”

  1. I find that the hardest thing about prepping as a single woman is not having anyone to discuss things with, share ideas, etc. I have tried joining several different prepping groups, but none have lasted. I know there are also couples in which one partner preps and the other doesn’t, so I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling! But I will not change who I am because I can’t find likeminded friends. Just keep on doing the stuff!

    • I’m not sure which state you live in, but there is an organization called the National Ladies Homestead Gathering (www.ladieshomesteadgathering.org), which is an organization just for women. The meetings are generally very organized and while not all topics relate to ‘prepping’, there is alot of overlap with homesteading.

  2. My dogs always know when someone is outside before I do, even if it’s at a neighbors’ house. Thanks for all the good tips.

  3. In a worst cace try to dress and act in a way that will not call atention to the faft you are a woman. Where loose fitting mens close. cut your hair short,get some dirt under your fingernails

  4. Gaye, living alone for for so many years, I’ve gotten everything you listed down to a science (more like a highly intuitiveness!!!). The only thing I couldn’t control is #6 as I was in a small small town and everybody knew who, what, where, and with whom any one was coexisting with. They knew I was alone, and I’m sure it was for that reason I developed the other areas so quickly. I could probably write a book for women who live alone, but I haven’t the time. I loved the article!!!

  5. My efforts to establish a “prepper pod” with other single women has been a failure. Please advise me how to find “givers” with skills and resources instead of just “takers” with which to network. I have tried to discreetly recruit friends, neighbors, and co-workers but they have apparently just been passing out my phone number to widows wanting to be “taken care of” in an emergency situation.

  6. I am very impressed with the security film from 3M that you put on your windows. I had to bring my house up to code with this product and even if you have several panes of glass on your window, it still acts as a security on the inside pane if someone wants to break the window glass. In a riotous situation people will want to break windows. It is inexpensive if you do it yourself. I found it on amazon and if someone try’s to break the window with a baseball bat they can’t. Well worth the time, effort, and money. We are putting them on all of our windows, even up stairs.

  7. I was surprised- it actually was a well thought out article. I can’t even tell you how many of the daytime talk shows geared toward women have had stupid or even dangerous tips. Sadly I also see women who are in the same boat I am- trying to find like minded people. It’s funny- we are more “connected” than ever via smart phones, tablets, and computers… and some how it doesn’t do any good. No worries- Keep calm and prep on 🙂

  8. Love this! I am a woman who WANTS to be alone, and I love living alone! So when a guy came to my door and asked if I wanted to learn more about karate I figure it was a sign. (I never would’ve tried it otherwise!) Now I’m an orange belt and am hoping that if someone tried to attack me then my training would kick in. Peace of mind at the very least. And I have lived through a disaster here in Christchurch, NZ so I’m aware what I need to prep. Keep up the good work Gaye!

  9. I have bought some emergency food for storage. My thoughts are where is best to hide this food in case the SHTF.

    • I too am a widow living alone….. for about 9 years I have been collecting things for survival. One thing I bought is a fire pit, and some instant fire (non toxic) can be burned in the house, for emergency cooking.
      I live on a fixed income and find it very hard to afford the food, although I have maybe a year stored, but would be in trouble if an emergency truly occured.
      It is not easy being a women alone…… I live at the end of a lane in the country on acreage, one mile from town… I feel secure but my closest neighbor is an 82 year old widow…..
      I have no family, and no close friends and find it hard in my town to make close friends…..Or any friends at all…. and I am well aware that I must keep my survival practices to my self……
      My husband was an attorney, so everyone thinks I am made of money….
      With illnesses, this is far from the truth. I have made it known I do not keep cash in the house, nor do I have pin numbers…… I am just existing right now, I want to live!!!!!!!!

    • I too live in the country but have a hubby and daughter/son in law close. they use to laugh at me for prepping, no more. they all help. I wished we knew more close to us that want/need help. I hope you find someone to trust, just sorry you aren’t need us.

  10. I live alone, in Panama, and it is difficult. I live in the city and recently bought a small hill farm just over 1 hour’s drive away. I am trying to start on growing my own food but water can be short – so first you have to buy tanks, put up gutters – so that needs someone to help. Then the ground is rock hard so someone to dig that – i- can do minor repairs to my car and have taken electric and plumbing course , but on your own it is harder and takes much longer.
    But if you pay for help there is someone else who knows at least part of what you are doing.
    I have so many ideas for food growing, security, water etc. but it just takes so much time.

    Then there are the issues of older friends – could I leave them behind if the SHTF… no, so need more food, living space….Still, we continue the best we can – we being me and the little puppy that adopted me a few weeks ago.

    • Can I offer something to your dilemma? When I gardened I dug a small ditch that went completely down each row and on to the next until the garden had this small ditch , then we trickled water at one end until it reached the other……it really works…….
      As far as the work is concerned…. hmmm you do not want people to know to much……. I suggest getting a roto tiller and learn to use it…….it is easy….The right tools make the job a lot easier truly 🙂
      I have canned a lot of product but also I have dehydrated so much…..remember to use a oxygen absorber in your dehydrated foods…
      Have you thought about “tiny houses” for your older friends and relatives?……they can help also…..snapping beans etc…..make it a little community project….:)
      Hope this helps some………:)

    • Check out the film “Back to Eden” on YouTube. It’s about preparing a space to grow crops without digging. All the prep work is above ground, no tilling or digging and results in less water needed and very little weeding.

  11. There are also those of us who are widowed or divorced WITH children. I appreciate this article, but I would also like to see some aimed at us. We have to be both mom and dad as well as a prepper. And some of us homeschool, too. Life is busy…

  12. I would suggest an addition to the self-defense stores IF a firearm is not to your personal liking. A small “child’s” works wonders on thugs trying to reach into or through a broken window, or trying to force their way through a door. The bat is small enough to wield effectively as an impact weapon, while applying your standard “Bear Spray” canister at the intruders. Bear spray is legal most places and IS effective on humans. yes, I’ve seen several widows and older single females use to to THEIR advantage tactically on thugs, back in my law enforcement career. Of course, my personal preference is for all lawful folks to own/possess/use a firearm as a means of self-defense. I realize some are not “comfortable” with one, they are far more “comforting” than comfortable. No thug wants to get shot with anything including a .22LR pistol or revolver. Find what works for you and fear no one. Make the illgetimi fear YOU.(apologies since I am male)

  13. The information in this article is great, however being a single mom of 3 living in an apartment, I am not able to apply most of this to my life. I will be sharing with my mom though, as she has her own house.
    And other weapon ideas- I don’t have the cash flow for a gun and classes, training and range time, or even karate classes for my kids, much less myself, but I keep a long handled screw driver by my bed. Only good for close range, I know, but better than nothing. I keep my light by my patio on all the time- not just nights or when I’m away, that way it’s not unusual and there is no pattern to it being on. I have a metal bar for my glass sliding door, but I can’t do much else.
    Apartment living doesn’t offer the ability to customize your security, but it is greatly needed!

  14. Baseball bat’s are great to leave around the house, hidden obviously. Even though some of us are married there will come a time we could loose our spouse. It is important we learn to do things now if we don’t already. Every woman should know how to use some tools, lawn equipment, perform some car maintenance,etc. My parents raised my two sisters, brother and myself to know how to do anything the opposite sex would do. Girls learned to change tires, check fluid levels on the cars, cut grass, use hand tools and my brother learned how to sew on buttons, cook, iron, do laundry, keep house and so on. We all had to pitch in at home growing up but it also prepared us to handle things if we lived on our own for awhile.I have a neighbor that is a widow and several of the neighbors around her keep a close eye out for her. She knows my husband and I will help her with anything she is unable to do and she also knows we will bring her to our house when things go south.

  15. I would like to see some articles for college students as well as teenagers on preparedness. We took our grandson to a preparedness expo in our area a few months ago. He is a teenager and of course was in our care for the weekend. He really did not want to go and stated if we got inside and people were in camo face paint and clothing, spouting the end of the world was near he was out of there. We stayed for 5 hours, spoke to all the vendors and made some purchases. When we got in the car I asked him what he thought of emergency preparedness now. He stated he was very surprised that all of the people with booths had full time jobs or owned business’s and were normal every day people.Now he helps us research products we may want to purchase, is interested in learning about firearms, still working on his mother to let him go to the course with us. He also understands why I have a beefed up food storage and his mother does not and told her to get it in gear. Kids are great when they are ready to learn something new.

    • Hello,
      I too am a woman alone with my daughter going off to college. She will be learning firearms this summer and also taking a 1st responder course. I am looking for a course on prepping to gain more knowledge. We are just beginning prep, I have a farming background and a lot of serious outdoor mountaineering, but I know if things go truly south for extended period of time we will need a network of likeminded individuals.

  16. I taught safety for hospital employees. One section was personnel protection. A big one is be observant. You be the predator rather than the prey. Keep looking around, and if you see something you do not like go back to the store, job, etc. Be prepared to get in your car by having your keys in your hand. Remember a key makes a good weapon. If you are subjected to being abducted, scream, fight, bite, kick, be a hell cat, and draw blood for DNA if needed. Before you buy a gun go in the bathroom, close the door and talk to the person in the mirror.If that person can not look you in the eye and say YES, I can take a human life to protect myself, DO NOT BUY a GUN.

  17. #6 IS THE STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER READ!!!! just how long does anyone think those “fake hubby/man around” boots are going to work???

    that’s as bad as the advice to women to use a male manikin or a dummy dressed as a man in the passenger seat of her car.

    this in the hopes that some baddy *might* believe that she has a big, macho, strong man to protect and save her.

    if you are that afraid and paranoid about being on your own, single/solo and especially in the country??? then move to town and put bars on the windows and doors.

  18. I’m thankful that my dad taught me how to be self-sufficient and fix things (at least attempt too) before calling a repairman to my home. I’ve had to change a tire but man I couldn’t do it now due to health problems.

    Home security is a must as a woman living alone and thank goodness with today’s technology it is easier than ever to protect your home. Whether you choose a security camera system for your home or install a ring door bell, the security presences helps keep your home secure. One of the best home safety tips for single moms or women, is to invest in a door block to use at night or upgrade the door frames so that an intruder can’t kick your doors in easily.

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