8 Really Sensible, but frequently ignored safety tips for Runners and Walkers
Officer Alice Eggers, of Fairfax County’s Safety & Crime Prevention, came and shared 8 really sensible but frequently ignored safety tips for runners and walkers in Virginia:
1. Use common sense.
Start your run or walk by making sure your shoes are tied, that you are familiar with the route, that someone else knows you’re going out on a run. Run off the street or against traffic. Watch out for cracks or bumps in the sidewalk, or rocks and branches on the path.
2. Make sure you’re visible.
No matter time of day you’re running or walking, it’s important that you’re visible, especially to drivers. Wear bright-colored clothes. When running in the morning, dusk, or night, wear reflective clothes and/or gear.
3. Don’t run alone at night.
There’s always safety in numbers.
4. Always have identification on you when you run.
Put a copy of your driver’s license and medical insurance card in your pocket OR wear an ID tag on your shoe when running or walking. Road ID is a very popular id band that many runners and walkers use. Consider having your cell phone with you on your run/walk and make sure you have ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers programmed.
5. Limit your distractions while running.
Consider not taking your iPOD/MP3 player with you when you run/walk. If you do, at least consider having the volume low or only using one earpiece. Cutting off your hearing means you may not be able to hear oncoming cars, cyclists, unleashed dogs, or any other potential threat.
6. Don’t make assumptions about drivers.
Many drivers aren’t paying attention because they are listening to music, talking on their cell phone, or reading a map. Don’t assume that drivers can see you running/walking or that they will stop, particularly if a light is about to change. Make eye contact with drivers at street crossings.
7. Watch out for cyclists and other runners.
Even if you’re on a path or sidewalk, always be aware of other runners and cyclists. If you’re approaching and need to pass someone, communicate and let them know on which side you’re trying to pass. Before stopping and turning around, make sure your path ahead and behind is clear.
8. Trust your instincts when running.
If a location or person makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your gut and run in the other direction. Officer Eggers also remarked on the effectiveness of a good yell in stopping the approach or commision of a personal crime or threat. Recommendations on yelling at someone include not using a shrill, “girley” voice. Instead, lower your voice an octave and use a deeper, forceful voice with one/two word commands such as “STOP” or “NO.” When trying to call attention or get help, don’t yell “Help me” or “Rape.” No one will come to your rescue. Basically, people are selfish and act with a mob mentality. If you’re in a big crowd and get attacked, and yell “Help!”, individuals tend to think that someone else will answer the call for help. This is called diffusion of responsibility. If, on the other hand, you yell “Fire!”, people all of a sudden get very worried about their own personal safety and pay attention very well. Once attention is drawn to yourself, the attacker will probably back off or you will be helped.
Matt Geraghty of KRAV MAGA came and demonstrated several self-defense techniques. KRAV MAGA is the official hand to hand combat system for the Israeli Defense Forces with several U.S. Military and Law Enforcement agencies training in the system. Matt showed us how to effectively block and remove choke holds and to execute a groin strike if being held from behind. KRAV MAGA is in the process of designing a Runner’s Defense class. For more information check their website www.kravmaganova.com or call 703-339-0881.
Anthony Pellicano of Nova Kali and two of his students came and demonstrated additional self-defense techniques. Kali is Filipino stick, knife, and empty hand fighting. Practitioners of Filipino martial arts are noted for their ability to fight with weapons or empty hands interchangeably. Empty-handed techniques are treated as using just another type of weapon, and weapons training is used to promote proficiency in empty-handed techniques. Anthony started by teaching us how to YELL. We then practiced hand strikes to the face and neck and knee strikes to the groin and knees of the attacker. Nova Kali is also in the process of designing a Runner’s Defense class. For more information, call Anthony at 410-900-3202 or email NovaKaliGroup@gmail.com
Thank you to all of our speakers: Officer Eggers, Matt Geraghty, and Anthony Pellicano. We learned a lot from each one and I know that I feel more confident about my ability to effectively respond if a dangerous situation should ever arise.