Tim Bergsten created this Ning Network.

This weekend while chatting with some fellow runners, I discovered some of us are more worried about local wildlife than getting struck by a car or attacked by a stranger.  Whatever your concerns when you're outside running, biking, walking, or blading, there are certain safety precautions we should all be taking. 


Here are several I do, but please feel free to add more.


1.  Dress bright.  Dress right. 


Whether you're running in sub-zero temps or rollerblading in the summer, dress according to the environment, weather, and sport.  Bright colors are more visible, so the "Neon-er," the better.  Wear layers when cold so you can remove a layer as you warm up; when hot, dress light to avoid overheating.  Don't forget your sunscreen year-round.


2.  Protect your nugget.


Whether your state requires a bike helmet or not, you should be wearing one!


3.  Lighten up.


Invest in some good quality headlights and taillights for your bicycle, and use them!  Try to get the kind that detach so that when you park your bike somewhere to go inside, you can remove the lights and stow them on your person to prevent theft.  Also, get the kind that blink--a strobe taillight is easier to detect than a steady one.


4.  Pepper, anyone?


It's smartest to team up with a buddy, or at least to go where there are a lot of people, but if you must use a remote trail, be sure to pack a pepper spray, be familiar with how to use it, and make it easy to get to in case of emergency.


5.  Firefly lights the way.


Purchase some reflective gear, such as ankle and wrist bracelets, a waist strap, or adhesive stickers to attach to helmet, body, and bike parts so that drivers can see you more easily.


6.  Don't forget your ID!


Most runners/walkers/bikers don't pack a drivers license, but what if you get struck by a car, have a heart attack, or get assaulted and aren't coherent to give emergency or insurance information to the EMTs?  Do yourself a favor and order an ID bracelet from www.roadid.com.  Or even hit PetCo to get yourself an ID badge engraved with emergency phone numbers and wear it faithfully.


7.  Communicate your route.


Make sure someone knows where you are at all times, what your trail route is, and how long it takes for you to complete it.  You should check in before and after your runs so that people will know you're safe.  I took my husband on the trails I run so he knows where I'll be and how long I take so that if I don't check in within a certain amount of time, he can take steps to getting me found. It's good to have several friends familiar with your trails and schedules, if possible.


8.  Hang up the earplugs.


I am amazed at the number of people who run with both ears plugged with music, especially if they're on a heavy-traffic road.  If you're inside a gym, that's fine, but outside, you need to be aware of traffic, animal noises, and people sneaking up behind you.  If you must have music, then only use one earbud so you can listen with the other.


9.  Nix the ponytails.


Ladies, perpetrators look for women who wear ponytails--it's easier to grab and drag you into the woods that way.  If you must wear your hair up, put it in a bun or tuck it into a hat.


10.  Be aware.


I realize that the scenery here is to die for, but don't be so zoned out that you're not constantly checking your surroundings for suspicious characters, strange noises, or overly-friendly stalkers.  If someone invades your personal space, don't be too afraid or too slow to maintain a safe distance in case you need to get away.


11.  Defend yourself.


If someone DID sneak up behind you, would you know how to get away?  Take some self defense classes so that you'll know BEFORE it happens. 


So, what other safety advice can YOU offer?  Please include links if applicable.  Thanks, and let's all be safe out there!


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