Tuesday, November 22, 2011

As the Days Get Shorter -- Be Safe!

Though I tend to talk about safety nearly every year after the time change, it probably cannot be repeated too often.

In the Northern Hemisphere, each day gets shorter until about December 21. And the end of Daylight Saving Time in late October or early November means it is darker in the evening all of the sudden. (Yuck!)

You could try walking in the morning, if you don't already. It's just a temporary fix though since it gets progressively darker in the mornings, too. If you have the right employer (or work at home, or are retired...), you could walk over your lunch hour. However, depending on how hard you walk, that might require access to a locker room or showers.

If you are like me, the only time of day available to seriously walk is the evening. (It is hard enough already for me to wake up in the morning -- I cannot get up any earlier!) And that means we need to be extra careful.

First, be careful where you walk. If I am alone, I will not venture into the city parks at night. There are too many dark secluded spots. Lucky for me, my neighborhood is safe and I'm comfortable walking there alone at any time.

Wear light-colored clothing if possible. My winter coat is dark purple, and all of my long pants are black, but I try to wear a white hat when I can. Regardless, in the dark, the purple might as well be black.

Reflective vests can be cute!
Wear some type of reflective clothing. Many athletic shoes have reflective spots, but that is not enough. If your jacket or pants do not have a reflective feature, be sure to wear a vest or some other safety garment. The other day, I saw reflective cuffs to wear around the biceps, reflective hats and even suspender-like straps to wear over a jacket instead of a complete vest. I wear a vest over my dark jacket.

Wear a light. I wear a headlamp. Most people in our neighborhood have lights in front of their houses, so the sidewalks are somewhat lit, but a headlamp does help me see uneven spots. But the real reason I wear a light is so that vehicles will see me when I cross the street. If you do not have access to sidewalks, a flashing red or yellow light on your back will also make you much more visible to vehicles! Don't forget to walk facing traffic if possible! (Find headlamps here: http://www.consumersearch.com/headlamps and headlamps and reflective gear here: http://walking.about.com/od/lights/Lights_and_Reflective_Gear.htm.)

One of my headlamps
clips to my hat.
Keep your ears open. I always have an MP3 player with me, but especially at night I use just one ear bud. With the volume at a reasonable level, this allows me to hear other pedestrians or vehicles.

Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. If you live with other people, this is not a problem. Living alone makes it a little more difficult. If you know your neighbors well enough, let one of them know what your plans are, then check back in when you return home. Otherwise, I have been known to call friends to let them know where I'm walking, and call again when I'm home. Anyone who supports your healthy lifestyle should be willing to do this for you!

Carry a cell phone. I know, I hate carrying the extra weight, too. Still, it is a minor inconvenience to be a little bit safer.

Darkness, rain, snow and wind are not good reasons to let your healthy lifestyle slide. With a little bit of planning and common sense, you should be able to walk outside year-round!

Let me know if any of you have any additional suggestions.


Tammy said...

I wear a red blinky light on my back and a headlamp for the front. I also carry pepper spray...and hopefully I'll never have to use it.

Cindi said...

I didn't think about pepper spray because I never carry it. Great idea!