Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Safety tips for runners

I've been hearing about a number of runners, both male and female that have been running by themselves in the forest or late at night without protection. This causes a lot of concern for me. A lot of people think that an attack can't happen to them, unfortunately, it only takes one time.

According to Senator Joseph Biden, who pushed for the law to punish violence against women, "the single greatest danger to a woman's health is violence from men." Of course, the vast majority of men -- honorable men -- don't hurt women, and women aren't the only victims of violence. But the fact is, women are physically more vulnerable. We learn early that we must take extra precautions to protect ourselves. http://www.pbs.org/kued/nosafeplace/articles/nightmare.html

There was a recent news report of  man armed with a knife in Forest Park, Portland, Oregon who was not only harassing people out enjoying the trail, but attacked 2 forest rangers with a knife. The good news, he was arrested. http://www.katu.com/news/local/133337158.html

And if you think this is an isolated case, think again.

When I lived in Oregon, I was stalked by a man and he was scary. He'd wait for me to run by and he would wave, real nut job. I called the police on him once. I don't know, maybe he really thought he knew me? But because of him, I took a self defense course, taught by deputies and it was really good. We learned how to fight back, learned about what weapons are great to carry and in the end we were able to fight the deputies.  That part scared me, but it was a great class and I would recommend it to anyone. I learned in the class the best weapon is your voice, yelling at no! I also learned that if the person is just too overpowering, than become the best victim you can be and his worst nightmare. Get his skin under your fingernails, yank out his hair, because it can be used as evidence. Also, go to the hospital after the attack before going home. But, never let him drag you away from the crime scene.
If you want to see instructions on self defense moves, just go to www.youtube.com and type in self defense for women.
If you are looking for weapons to carry, I would suggest a body alarm, pepper spray and a Kubaton. You can buy pepper spray anywhere. I purchased the body alarm and Kubaton at this online store. http://www.alphainnovationsselfdefense.com/

Here are some other helpful safety tips:
  • Don’t wear headphones. Use your ears to be aware of your surroundings. Your ears may help you avoid dangers your eyes may miss during evening or early morning runs.
  • Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles. By facing on-coming traffic, you may be able to react quicker than if it is behind you.
  • Look both ways before crossing. Be sure the driver of a car acknowledges your right-of-way before crossing in front of a vehicle. Obey traffic signals.
  • Carry identification or write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe. Include any medical information.
  • Always stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
  • Carry a cell phone or change for a phone call. Know the locations of public phones along your regular route.
  • Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React on your intuition and avoid a person or situation if you’re unsure. If something tells you a situation is not “right”, it isn’t.
  • Alter or vary your running route pattern; run in familiar areas if possible. In unfamiliar areas, such as while traveling, contact a local RRCA club or running store. Know where open businesses or stores are located in case of emergency.
  • Run with a partner. Run with a dog.
  • Write down or leave word of the direction of your run. Tell friends and family of your favorite running routes.
  • Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Avoid unlit areas, especially at night. Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
  • Ignore verbal harassment and do not verbally harass others. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
  • Wear reflective material if you must run before dawn or after dark. Avoid running on the street when it is dark.
  • Practice memorizing license tags or identifying characteristics of strangers.
  • Carry a noisemaker. Get training in self-defense.
  • When using multi-use trails, follow the rules of the road. If you alter your direction, look over your should before crossing the trail to avoid a potential collision with an oncoming cyclist or passing runner.
  • Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is important to report incidents immediately  http://www.rrca.org/education-advocacy/rrca-general-running-safety-tips/ 
I would suggest that you read the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

Taken from the book, The Gift of Fear, I learned about Survival signals. Survival signals are

Survival Signals
1.Forced teaming
Sometimes someone will say and do things to make you feel "We're in the same boat."  Or,  “We’re on the same team.” The purpose is to establish rapport and to put you at ease. Team spirit can be an excellent motivator. Sport teams, political parties, community service organizations, and neighborhoods all work best when people feel a sense of belonging with each other. It is important to notice when someone with whom you have not chosen to be connected with talks as if you are together. Be careful when people try to connect by identifying you with them as an “us” and to separate you from others who are “them”.  Remember what your relationship with this person truly is and is not.
2.Charm and niceness
People sometimes project warmth, kindness, sympathy, and humor as a way to get others to open up to them. People like this can very enjoyable, but they also might be harmful. When someone is very funny, kind and sweet, think to yourself, "This person is trying to charm me. Is being with this person what I want? Am I being charmed into accepting things that are not okay with me? Am I in a safe place if things go wrong?"  Even if someone is great to be with, notice if that person's behavior seems to change. People who were betrayed by their friends might say, "I could not believe that she/he would do this to me because we have had such good times together." Many women who were attacked say afterwards, "But he was so nice to me at first!” 
3.Too many details
When people want to persuade you, they sometimes give a lot more information than necessary. This can be because they really care about what they are saying, but it can also be because they are trying to distract you or confuse you into believing their story. It can be hard for honest people to remember that sometimes other people will make up convincing details to get you to trust them and that lots of details does not mean that someone is being truthful. Instead of getting too involved in what someone is saying, stay focused on your actual situation. Ask yourself questions like, "How well do I know this person?  Is this person’s behavior suddenly different in an uncomfortable way? Is he or she respecting my wishes?"
Understandably, most people don't like to be labeled as being uncaring, unkind, thoughtless, selfish, paranoid, unfair, misusing their power, or ignorant. Someone might deliberately use negative labels to get you to react in the opposite direction. Watch out for comments like, “You don’t care, do you?” Or, “You aren’t one of those women who think all men are bad, are you?” Or, “You probably think you are too good for someone like me.” Or, “Someone who comes from a family as well off as yours could not possibly understand what it’s like to be poor.’ Or, “This an unfair restriction on my freedom.” Or, “Telling me to stop is abusive.” Or, "You aren't being a good friend." Or, “You screwed up before and you probably will again.” Trying to prove someone wrong by changing your behavior is another way of letting what someone else says have power over you. Instead, make a conscious choice about how you are going to act depending on what the specific behavior being labeled is and what is actually going on.
5.Loan sharking
A loan shark lends one amount and then collects much, much more than was loaned. People sometimes try to build relationships by giving gifts. People sometimes are kind and want to help. There is nothing wrong with this if what they want to do is something you want and if there is no pressure for you to give more than you wish in return. If someone else approaches you and tries to do you a favor, you are not obligated to accept it nor are you obligated to give a favor back. Be aware that this could be a tactic to get close to you. When someone you don’t know says, "Here, let me help you,” and tries to do something you did not ask for or don’t really need, the safest response is to walk away and say firmly, "No thanks!"
6.The unsolicited promise
Promises are important. If you are the kind of person who keeps commitments yourself, you are likely to be reassured when someone makes a promise. However, before you trust your emotional or physical safety to someone’s promise, make sure that this person has a track record of keeping promises. Watch out for comments like, “I promise I will never let you down.” Or, “I promise I will never lie to you.” Or, “I promise I’ll leave just as soon as we get there.” Or, “I haven’t been drinking, I promise.” Or. “I’ll drive carefully, I promise.” Or, "I'll pay you back, I promise." Remember that what someone has done over time is a far better indicator of what someone will do than any kind of promise.
7.Discounting the word “no”
As successful fundraisers, negotiators, and salespeople all understand, “No” can sometimes mean “Not yet.” Asking for more information, listening to concerns, or offering other choices can lead to a good outcome for all concerned so it is important not to let “No” mean more than it actually does. As wise parents know, a child’s “No” should always be respected as a feeling but not always accepted as a choice. At the same time, intrusive or dangerous people will test the boundaries of potential victims by not listening to their “No.” If you are shy or uncertain in saying “No,” even people with good intentions might not hear you and might keep pushing your boundaries. If something is not okay with you or is potentially unsafe, it is important to be strong and clear and to have your actions match your words. "I really do not want to!” Or, “This is really not okay with me.” Or, “Go away! I don't want your help!" If you need help, if possible, pick someone out yourself and tell that person firmly and loudly that you need help instead of waiting for someone not of your choosing to offer.

For further explanation on survival signals, go to: http://www.womynwarrior.com/2011/06/gavin-de-beckers-survival-signals/

Be smart, it's better to be annoyed by carrying pepper spray, than the the annoyance of being attacked by someone. Danger never takes a vacation.

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