Oklahoma : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Oklahoma - state review
Norman, Oklahoma, is just 20 miles south of Oklahoma City.
It’s a vibrant residential community that also doubles as a college town for Oklahoma University (OU).
As part of Tornado Alley, Norman has weathered its fair share of storms, prompting the establishment of the National Weather Center (NWC) and the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).
This scientific hub plays a pivotal role in advancing meteorological research and fostering a deeper understanding of severe weather patterns.
At the core of Norman’s identity is the University of Oklahoma (OU), a prestigious institution that has not only shaped minds but also contributed significantly to the city’s cultural vibrancy.
The university’s impact extends beyond academia, with its spirited presence infusing energy into the community.
Beyond its scientific significance, Norman embraces a diverse array of neighborhoods, each with its own character, from the historic Old Silk Stocking District to the modern developments of Summit Lakes.
The nearby lure of Thunderbird Lake makes this an ideal outdoor destination for all seasons.
Whether delving into the city’s past, exploring its academic prowess, or marveling at meteorological advancements, a visit to Norman promises a multifaceted experience shaped by history, education, and a dynamic intersection with the forces of nature.
Warnings & Dangers in Norman
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a mixed bag in Norman, but it all balances out to a low risk if you're paying attention and using common sense. Violent crimes aren't the big concern. Property crime is, but we'll talk about ways to limit your exposure while enjoying the city.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
There's a new transit center in Norman, so check the schedule to see if the routes work for your trip needs. An express route is available to Oklahoma City. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find in this college town. Rental cars offer more flexibility to explore the metro area on your own schedule. All options are low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
This is a medium risk, with about 26 pickpockets or purse snatchings happening each year. That's on top of a theft rate that is 53% higher than the national average. You need to protect your belongings when you walk around or park and don't leave anything to chance. Leave valuables at home and carry only what you need.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
The fact that Norman is in "Tornado Alley" puts it at medium risk, but you will get plenty of notice about incoming severe weather if you know where to get the information. Those storms can also produce straight-line winds, damaging "gorilla" hail, flash flooding, and intense lightning. Winters can get ice storms, snow storms, or blizzards.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The robbery rate is 63% lower than the national average, and just a handful of those are highway robberies. There's a much greater chance someone will try to steal something from your vehicle than from you directly.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
The risk is low, but every community in America will emphasize the importance of reporting anything suspicious you see. Domestic terrorism doesn't have boundaries, and it can happen anywhere. That's why being vigilant is so important. You'll also notice more security steps during OU game days.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
I've seen several scams reported, from one telling people their dog is in animal control custody to another threatening arrest if a person doesn't pay a bogus warrant. However, they are targeting the people who live here and attend school here. Tourists should use standard precautions against things that seem too good to be true, but the risk is low if you have street smarts.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Statistically, women are 10% more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, but most of those are domestic situations. My only caution would be to use the buddy system if you're out enjoying the college nightlife. Avoid going to private parties with people you just met, and never let a friend walk home alone.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. The water is safe to drink, and any additional concern would come from an emergency alert. We'll tell you how to sign up for those in a little bit.
Safest Places to Visit in Norman
VisitNorman.com is the official tourism website for the city.
Visit Norman does have an app you can use as you explore.
The app has a list of all the businesses and attractions nearby.
You can pair that with Visitokc.com to cover the entire region.
Norman is well-known for being the home of the National Weather Center.
Tours are available to see how storm predictions are put together and explore the latest technology in weather forecasting.
This is a great tour for everyone, but especially those who aren’t familiar with tornadoes.
Immerse yourself in the world of art at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.
Home to an impressive collection of European, Native American, and contemporary art, this museum promises a visual feast.
Delve into the fascinating natural history of Oklahoma at the Sam Noble Museum.
From dinosaur exhibits to Native American artifacts, it’s a captivating journey through time.
Stroll through the lively Campus Corner, a bustling district adjacent to the University of Oklahoma.
Discover eclectic shops, local boutiques, and diverse dining options catering to every taste.
Norman also has a downtown corridor with more shopping, dining, and businesses.
It’s not as lively as the Campus Corner, but it’s also not as rowdy.
Art lovers should explore the Walker Arts District and check the calendar for events happening during your visit.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, catch a game at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
The electric atmosphere during the football season is a quintessential Norman experience.
Lake Thunderbird State Park is a large outdoor haven nearby.
Boating, beaches, and bicycle trails are just a few of the fun activities to explore here.
Don’t miss the Discovery Cove Nature Center.
There are also hiking trails and equestrian trails to visit.
Paddle rentals are available in the summer.
Places to Avoid in Norman
The lowest crime areas are north of Robinson Street and south of Lindsey Street.
The higher crime areas are centered around downtown, which makes sense since there are more people.
The area around OU is going to have surprisingly high crime rates, but keep in mind that it’s mostly petty theft related to car break-ins or other property not properly secured.
You don’t need to avoid any part of the city because it’s “too dangerous,” but if you don’t want the college town vibe, consider another city or stay near the lake or west of I-35.
The majority of hotels will be along I-35, so you should check how close your preferred location is to the highway if you don’t like roadway noise.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Norman
- Norman does have its own police department. You can follow them on Facebook @normanokpd. Call (405)321-1600 if you have specific safety questions. You can also email normand@NormanOK.gov.
- Norman police are transparent with crime information, and if you visit the Crime Prevention Data of the department’s website, you can get much more updated data than I can give you. We always go off the previous year’s FBI data. Norman releases information each Friday.
- Report any suspicious activity to Norman Crime Stoppers. The program is set up so you can remain anonymous but still be eligible for a reward. This doesn’t replace 911 in case of an emergency. But it’s perfect for things like seeing broken windows on cars or freshly sprayed graffiti.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through the ALERTNorman program on the city’s emergency management website section. It’s imperative you get severe weather notifications. The page also has a list of every weather concern and risk with a checklist for preparing for the worst.
- Since theft is such a big crime here, it’s important to know when you should call the police and when you can file a report online. The police department does detail this on its website under “Report Crime Online.” For example, if the theft is less than $1,000, you can report it online. If your vehicle is stolen, you would call the police for an officer to respond.
- Once you file a report, a copy will be available within a couple of days online. This is important for things like car accidents and break-ins because you’ll need that report for your insurance company.
- Oklahoma is famous for its winter ice storms. In fact, there’s more of a chance you’ll face an ice storm than a winter storm most years. I lived in Oklahoma for a couple of years, and I dreaded ice storms. There’s really no way to get around when everything is coated in ice, and heavy power lines and tree limbs can crash down due to the weight of the ice. If an ice storm is in the forecast, I’d reconsider your trip.
- Use the Go Outdoors Oklahoma app to check wilderness seasons, conditions, and rules during your visit. This is also where you can purchase a fishing license. You must carry a license with you while fishing, and it can be just a screenshot on your mobile device. Just be sure to have a legal ID as well, such as a driver’s license or passport.
- Oklahoma does have some toll highways. You can use a PIKEPASS to pay the toll as you drive through, but don’t worry if you pass a toll booth and don’t have money. You can always pay afterward by mailing in your payment. Don’t ignore the toll and refuse to pay. They will be able to track down rental cars.
- During OU Football home games, you’ll need to know the detour routes. The police department offers that information on social media sites. You can also use OKTraffic.org to check conditions around the metro area and the state.
So... How Safe Is Norman Really?
While Norman has certain safety concerns, it’s also one of the most beloved and growing communities in the OKC metro region.
The violent crime rate is 24% lower than the national average and 27% lower than the state average.
Add to that – just 13% of violent crimes happen against strangers.
It makes the city safer for visitors, provided you don’t go looking for trouble (because it IS out there).
Robberies are well below the national average, with just 16% of those being highway robberies.
There’s another checkmark for a “really safe city.”
However, it’s when we get to petty theft the numbers skyrocket.
45% of all thefts are related to car break-ins or accessory thefts.
The problem here is two-fold.
First, too many of those crimes are preventable.
People feel the town is so safe they can leave their cars unlocked with keys, guns, wallets, and electronics inside.
Second, the number of actual car break-ins is likely much higher than is being reported because people make the mistake of leaving a car unlocked.
Deputy Sheriff Lt. Kim Lopez said, “Whether you lock your car or not, you need to report all crimes and suspicious activity.
I am just ill about the people who are failing to report.
They have serious things happening, and they won’t call Norman PD.
When people fail to lock their cars, they don’t feel privileged to call the police because they feel like it was their fault.”
On top of the car break-ins, about one car a day is stolen in Norman.
That’s extra motivation to lock your car and remove your stuff.
Then you have severe weather to consider, and if you’ve never been subjected to tornado warnings, you need to take them seriously.
I’ve spent my entire life with this risk, and it really is just a matter of knowing what to do at the right time.
I’ve even slept through a few tornado warnings in the middle of the night.
Having a safe experience in Norman is all about using common sense and knowing the safety risks, so you can develop a smart safety plan.
Expect game days at OU to be a bit more rowdy, especially at the bars and entertainment districts.
How Does Norman Compare?
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A visa or visa waiver is required, paired with a valid passport, to get through Customs and Border Patrol at your entry point. You can check your eligibility for the visa waiver on the U.S. State Department website.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. You should know that the Oklahoma City airport does not have a foreign currency exchange. Your home bank will have the lowest fees, or if you have an international bank, find a local branch.
Norman gets a mix of all four seasons, but winters can vary from mild to winter storm conditions. It's critical to check the forecast before you go, so you know how to pack. There isn't snow on the ground all winter. Summers will be hot and humid. Bug spray is important if you plan on spending time outside from spring through fall.
Will Rogers World Airport is just 20 miles from Norman, which could take 20–45 minutes, depending on traffic. If you're flying in and out of the Dallas area, plan for a 2-3 hour drive.
Anytime you take a trip where weather could potentially interfere with flights or driving, we highly recommend getting travel insurance. Don't forget to look into health insurance if you won't already be covered at your destination. If you're getting a rental car, make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage and roadside assistance.
Norman Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Oklahoma - Safety by City