Safety in Seattle - Everything you Should know about Safety in the Emerald City

As compared to some other cities in the United States, Seattle is relatively safe for both residents and tourists. It is a major metropolitan city with several tourist attractions, and these areas are generally crowded and thus quite safe to walk around in. Of course, when it comes to safety in Seattle, just like in any other city in the world, you always need to be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are in a deserted and poorly-lit area. 

But how safe is Seattle? Here is everything you need to know about Safety in Seattle as a tourist visiting for the first time:

Is Seattle safe for everyone?

Is Seattle safe for all?

It is a known fact that the Emerald City is much safer than many other US cities but is Seattle safe for different communities? 
  • For women: Despite having a lower crime rate than some other cities in the country, women shouldn't travel independently, especially during the night time. While Seattle is generally quite safe for women, there are certain pockets to avoid, such as downtown Seattle, around Pike Street and any other poorly lit area.
  • For solo travellers: Seattle has been relatively safe for solo travellers, especially in predominantly tourist sites. People can go about the city independently without worrying too much about their safety. However, it is still advisable to avoid some areas known for high crime rates or homeless camps, especially women.
  • For LGBTQ+ travellers: The metropolitan city is one of the most progressive cities in the country and quite welcoming to people of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, it is home to a very active LGBTQ+ community, but, there have been reports of some hate crimes towards people belonging to this group. It is advisable to either steer clear of people who may seem hostile or may be causing trouble or simply reporting them.
  • For BIPOC travellers: Again, Seattle is a tolerant city and has also witnessed several pro-BIPOC movements. However, it isn’t home to a large BIPOC population. There have been reports of racial crimes in the city; it is best to report any such incident immediately or stay away from areas known for such crimes.

Travelling in Seattle at Night-Time

Seattle at night

Seattle is no longer as safe as it used to be during the night time. At the same time, it would be an exaggeration to say that the city is completely unsafe once the sunsets, it is true that night time safety has deteriorated over the years. For reasons such as criminal activities, robberies, murders, assaults, and even high numbers of homeless people, several parts of the city are known for being less welcoming and even dangerous. Areas like City Hall Park, Lake City, White Center, and downtown Kent are known for suspicious activities, and if you must venture around these spots, make sure to have someone accompany you as a precaution.

15 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind when in Seattle

Caution while withdrawing money

No matter where you are in the city and what time of the day it is, there are some points you need to keep in mind when you are going around Seattle. The following are 15 of them:
  1. Check your room: Whether you are staying in a hotel, hostel or an Airbnb, always make sure to check around your room or your lodging. Ensure that all doors and windows shut properly, have a lock, and try looking around for anything suspicious, such as hidden cameras.
  2. Keep a copy of your documents: One of the most important things to do is to have copies of all of your documents, which includes your passport, your tickets, insurance, and any other form of ID you may have. These come in handy in case you misplace the originals or if they are stolen.
  3. Put all your documents in a safe place: Your documents must be kept in a safe place at all costs and thus try to keep them in a locker if there is one, in your suitcase, in any drawer that locks, or even in your own handbag if there is nowhere else to keep them safe.
  4. Please don’t leave your belongings unattended: While most tourist sites are filled with people and generally safe, they are also likely to have many pick-pockets. Make sure to keep your handbags to your front side and not let your grip on the loose. Furthermore, if you are carrying various bags or items, don’t leave them unattended if you go to the restroom or anywhere else. 
  5. Be aware of your surroundings: Always be on the lookout for anything suspicious going around you. Don’t hesitate to call attention to someone who may seem shady, or if you feel like you are being followed. Also, be aware of overly friendly people since they may be trying to distract you from stealing something.
  6. Never travel with a lot of money: Try not to carry too much money with you since it would make you an easy target. Instead, depending upon where you intend to go on a particular day, carry only as much as you would need. Also, don’t take out bundles of cash when you pay for something.
  7. Try to blend in: Pick-pockets generally tend to target tourists and to avoid becoming a victim, walk with a purpose and try to blend in with the locals; don’t stop every two minutes from taking in the surroundings and from taking a picture of something.
  8. Avoid paying panhandlers: Like any other city, Seattle has its fair share of panhandlers, and while it is not against the law, the authorities advise against giving them money since some tend to get aggressive.
  9. Ask an official for directions: If you need to ask for directions, try asking an official like a police officer or a bus driver since someone else could give you the wrong ones or mislead you.
  10. Drive safe: Although it's a given, never drive under the influence of alcohol since the laws are quite strict. Make sure to follow all traffic rules and keep any rental vehicles in proper condition.
  11. Don’t take shortcuts in the dark: Even if you are in a rush, avoid taking any shortcuts through alleyways or dark lanes at night time since you may encounter someone engaging in suspicious activities. Stick to paths you know well.
  12. Inform people of your whereabouts: It is always advisable to let people know of your whereabouts at all times, especially if you are alone and in a completely new place.
  13. Be careful when withdrawing money: Whenever you withdraw cash from an ATM, be aware of your surroundings, especially those standing close to you. Try not to flash around the money and also make sure the machine hasn’t been tampered with.
  14. Refrain from wearing flashy clothes: Unless you are going out for a special occasion, don’t wear too much jewellery or carry any expensive accessories. It may make you a target for pickpocketing or even robbery.
  15. Please stay away from certain areas or neighbourhoods: Every city in the world has certain neighbourhoods known for high crime rates, and it is key that you identify the ones in Seattle and avoid them at all costs.

Places in the City you MUST Avoid at Night.

Pine St. in Seattle

As most cities do, Seattle has a few neighbourhoods that you must try to avoid going into, alone or with others, especially places that even residents don’t tend to wander into. Here are a few:
  1. Belltown: The area between Bell and Blanchard in the Belltown neighbourhood is one to avoid since it is notorious for drug-related activities, robberies, and assault.
  2. Pike and Pine Streets: Make sure to avoid the area around these streets, especially once it gets dark since it is known for violent crimes.
  3. Dearborn Street to Yesler Way: The area between the south of Dearborn Street, all the way to Yesler Way, is known as “The Jungle” and must be avoided at all times since it is basically a massive homeless camp.
  4. Lake Washington and Puget Sound: Owing to multiple cases of assaults, robberies and even homicides, you must steer clear of the road between Lake Washington and Puget Sound.
  5. M L King Jr. Way to South Boeing Access Road: The area between M L King Jr. Way and South Boeing Access Road is well-known for having a high crime rate, especially that of violent crimes, and must be avoided all costs.

Coronavirus-Related Guidelines issued in Seattle

A woman in a mask

In view of the current coronavirus pandemic which has severely affected the United States, every state has issued a certain set of guidelines that must be followed, and Seattle is no exception. Here are a few of the guidelines you must adhere to when visiting:
  1. There is a 14-day quarantine period recommended for anyone that comes into Seattle from any other state or country.
  2. For anyone visiting from the United Kingdom, South Africa or any other country with reported cases of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, the 14-day quarantine period is mandatory.
  3. It is advisable to not travel too far out of the city, remain in the same lodging if possible, and avoid any non-essential travel.
  4. Wearing a mask or a face covering is obligatory when out in a public or common space. The only exceptions to this rule include people with certain disabilities, hearing difficulties, and children under 2.
  5. When out in a public space such as a restaurant, taking off the mask is allowed when eating or drinking, given that a minimum distance of 6 feet is maintained from others.
  6. Indoor gatherings with people who do not live in the same house are prohibited unless everyone has quarantined for 14 days before the gathering, or 7 days prior and has a negative COVID test result.
  7. Outside gatherings must be limited to 5 people not sharing the same household in a single week.
  8. Long-term care facilities only allow for outdoor visitation; indoor visitation is restricted to essential support personnel only.
  9. Outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, skiing, hunting, fishing, racing (bicycle, biathlons, canoe, kayak etc.), golf, tennis and others are allowed either on an appointment, with restrictions on the number of people allowed, and with mandatory face covering.
  10. Businesses allowed to remain open include farms, aquariums and zoos with outdoor exhibits, pet groomers, libraries with limited seating, drive-in movie theatres, and restaurants and taverns with outdoor seating.

Healthcare in Seattle

Seattle has one of the best healthcare systems in the United States and the entire world. In fact, in terms of the infrastructure, the quality of care provided and the ease of healthcare access, the city is ranked as the 10th-best hospital city in the country and 13th in the entire world. In case of any emergencies, you can seek health care from any of the 5 following facilities, amongst others:

1. University of Washington Medical Center

Address: 1959 NE Pacific St, Seattle, WA 98195, United States
Contact no: +1 206-598-3300

2. EvergreenHealth Kirkland

Address: 12040 NE 128th St, Kirkland, WA 98034, United States
Contact no: +1 425-899-1000

3. Overlake Medical Center

Address: 1035 116th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004, United States
Contact no: +1 425-688-5000

4. Swedish Medical Center-Cherry Hill

Address: 500 17th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122, United States
Contact no:  +1 206-320-2000

5. Virginia Mason Hospital and Seattle Medical Center

Address: 1100 9th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, United States
Contact no: +1 206-223-6600
The Emerald City is undoubtedly safe for a tourist for the most part, but there are always some things to keep in mind while going around. When it comes to safety in Seattle, always be aware of your surroundings and do a little bit of research about it before you step out, to avoid getting into any trouble.

This post was published by Arushi Bhowmick

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