Pokemon GO is currently the biggest video game phenomenon since the original Pokemon titles, and it’s pretty much impossible to leave your house without finding groups and individuals playing it everywhere. It has drawn not only the attention of lifelong Pokemon fans, but also newcomers who may not have any experience with Pokemon but just love the idea. The new game incentivizes going outside and doing quite a bit of travel to get the best experience, so naturally, there are some potential dangers players need to keep in mind before they head out. And some other tips to help you get the best experience.
Pokemon GO requires you to look down at your phone a lot, and thus you may not always be paying attention to your surroundings. You should always try and keep some awareness, to avoid tripping or colliding with objects or other people. The game has notifiers built in that will make a sound or cause your phone to vibrate if a Pokemon appears on the map, so don’t feel like you need to be looking at your phone constantly. It may also help to have a “designated looker” who can guide the group and help keep everyone safe. If you travel in a group, you can take turns doing this.
If you haven’t figured it out already, you should never use Pokemon GO while driving or riding. No Pikachu is worth it (or any other Pokemon for that matter). When you are walking, make sure you stop only in safe places when you are trying to check your phone or catch a Pokemon—try to avoid stopping in the middle of bike traffic and never under any circumstances stop in the middle of a road.
As with any craze, there have already been cases of more malicious folks using Pokemon GO for harm, by using the Lure Modules and simply taking advantage of the larger amount of people who will always been carrying at least one expensive item on them. It is always better to travel in groups or within highly populated areas when you’re out trying to catch ’em all. Most Pokestops and Gyms are set up in areas that see a lot of foot traffic (near shops or restaurants, or at parks and centers) but you should be wary of any that happen to be in slightly more quiet areas. Make sure to keep a spare battery so you can preserve power and always be ready to contact emergency services if necessary.
Most police departments and other emergency services know about Pokemon GO by now and are happy to help if you run into trouble. Additionally, keep an eye out for fake apps or potentially harmful software that people might advertise to Pokemon GO players. If it isn’t from Niantic or Nintendo, be wary before you download.
When venturing outside, no matter where you live, you should be prepared. How much you bring is a matter of some preference but at the very least you should always bring a water bottle and either a spare battery or a portable charger. Wherever you are stay aware of local weather and make sure you’re prepared. If you are in the Northern hemisphere, make sure you don’t let yourself overheat, and try to keep to shady areas. If you are in the Southern hemisphere, keep an eye on the weather and make sure to bundle up. Wherever you are, keep hydrated and make sure you take a break every once in a while. Additionally, if you aren’t used to strenuous physical activity (like walking for hours on end) you might consider talking to a doctor for more personalized advice. If you’re planning to be walking around for a long time, you’re hiking on uneven terrain, or you’re taking another form of transportation like a bike or kayak, you might consider stretching before you leave.
Most likely while you’re out and about you’re going to come across other players with the same goal in mind, and while the vast majority are going to be friendly, you should still use some common sense when interacting with strangers. You don’t need to be completely averse to everyone you don’t know, but keep in mind all the rules you learned as a kid about taking candy from strangers. If you’re in an area you’re unfamiliar with, keep with people you know. If you feel unsafe for any reason, cal a taxi or service like Lyft, and catch some Pokemon back to your home or wherever you head next. Don’t ever feel like you’re being overly cautious—prepare yourself as much as you feel you need.
If you have a severe physical disability or any other personal circumstance that may impact your travels, try to always travel with a buddy for safety. Don’t let children under a certain age wander off too far without an adult. Some players may also travel with pets, particularly dogs. This can be fun and a great bonding experience, but remember your furry friends have needs too—make sure to bring water and snacks for your companion and be mindful of leaving them standing on pavement or blacktops. And be wary interacting with other players’ pups.
You should always aim to travel in daylight, but if you don’t have time or it’s too hot to travel during the day, you should make sure you’re extra prepared at night. Try to travel to areas with shops that are open late, so that you know you will have light. Carry a flashlight, glow sticks, or some other bright device (for added effect you can just announce that you’re using TM Flash). Don’t try and rely on your phone’s flashlight. This will only drain your battery faster, which means you won’t be able to play Pokemon GO and you won’t have a flashlight.
If you’re riding a bike, install some kind of light on the front. Don’t go out onto the water at night. You’re unlikely to find an area with a lifeguard or anyone watching the water, and it’s generally much more unsafe. Speaking of …
If your quest to be the very best takes you to a lake, ocean, river, or any other body of water, make sure you exercise all the rules required and recommended. You should always wear a life jacket (and in some places life jackets are legally required for children). Try to only go out into the water in areas that have a life guard. If no such place exists, at least try to only go out into areas where there are a lot of people on the shore. Be extra careful about where you step when you’re near water—slipping could not only cost you your phone when it lands in the water, but also mean a trip to the hospital.
There are a lot of gyms and Pokestops at local landmarks and businesses, and most have embraced the incoming swarms of trainers. Some may even have special offers and deals for trainers who set off Lures or Incense. However, always remember that these places service a lot of other people as well. Be respectful to staff and volunteers at any place you visit, and be sure to recognized and know their rules. Don’t stick around after hours trying to hunt down Pokemon—when they are closed, they’re closed. Some stores may require you to purchase something if you enter—don’t argue or get mad. Do your hunting outside.
If it is a publicly operated area, like a police station, park, museum, or the like, be extra careful and recognize any common sense rules or laws, like curfews. Many police stations and courthouses have asked trainers do their hunting outside and not enter the building. You shouldn’t go inside an emergency or legal service building for Pokemon. Unless you already have a reason for being there, you could accidentally impede on very important work. It should go without saying, but don’t try to sneak into anywhere or try to get into tightly kept government buildings either. Keep your searching outside the building. If you visit parks, keep in mind most parks have closing times or close at dusk.
The best tool at your disposal as a Pokemon trainer is your common sense: be mindful of your surroundings, be respectful to each other and the places you visit, be safe, and don’t do anything that would make your mom disappointed in you. You can check out more Pokemon GO news, editorials, and tips right here on TechRaptor!