Being prepared for our own safety is important for everyone. For those of us over 60 years of age, it’s imperative we stay active to maintain as much strength as possible. We can also supplement our strength with accessories, which may or may not have a bit of flash and sash to them.
From high tech to low tech, we all have our favorite safety accessories. We may not think of them as such and while they are not appropriate or helpful for every situation, accessories they are.
For my lifestyle, safety when running the roads and the trails is where I most frequently rely on low tech devices. Whatever your lifestyle, for the majority of outings safety accessories are not needed. However, if we have one or more of them handy, it is one less thing for you or me to be concerned about. Then, we can concentrate on the beauty of the day on the trail or enjoying the sights in the city.
So, let’s look at a few low tech devices I have in mind to accessorize your look and your well being while out and about.
The Other People (OP) Strategy
Seriously, surrounding yourself in a group can be a safety accessory. Think penguins. When penguins take that leap into the water, they do so as a pack. When penguins take that dive with the pack, they are less likely to be gobbled up by a seal. Take that swim alone and it’s nearly a sure thing the penguin won’t be returning to the safety of shore. It’s similar for humans. If we’re with a group, the OP strategy generally works. We are less likely to be hassled, intimidated or something worse.
Alas, we are not penguins. Many of us enjoy a run or a stroll without OP. Are there times you want to take a solo run or see a movie or show that doesn’t appeal to friends and family? Here, the OP strategy doesn’t work unless you forego your own interests. Are you in this category? Well then, we’ll move to the next option.
“You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve?”
Your name is likely not Steve, but that was the advice from Lauren Bacal’s character to Humphrey Bogart’s character in “To Have and Have Not.” It’s a question for you if you want to stay safe. Can you whistle when your safety is in question? You can if you have a basic trail whistle. I have several models for the trail and usually wear one on a chain around my neck tucking the whistle into my running bra. Some people attach a whistle to their auto or home key chains.
Whistles can be less than a quarter inch in diameter and no more than a inch or so long, and yet make a loud, shrill sound. This is a wonderful passive device that can quickly be used if you become lost on the trail, are hurt and immobile and need help, or if you are in a dicy situation anywhere.
I’ve looked around and found that whistles now come in some elegant styles. You can find a variety on many websites, such as Etsy.
Carry a Big Stick
So said Teddy Roosevelt and so can we. There are variations of the stick that will work for your particular lifestyle. If it’s a run, hike or walk in the woods, a hiking pole will suit.
The citified version of this would be a cane or a walking stick. Whether or not you need it for strength or balance, it can be handy in self-defense and also quite stylish.
The street and travel version can be the very elegant and decorative canes I have seen used among friends. They vary from rhinestones and animal prints, to classic wood business styles. You can find canes specifically for women at many retail stores or on lines at numerous websites such as this one. I haven’t taken this up as a safety accessory myself but if it is something you use as a safety ruse, please comment on how it has worked for you.
Who Are You?
If you are hurt and can’t speak for yourself, let your identification bracelet or necklace speak for you. It won’t keep bad things from happening, but it can quickly provide necessary information to medical or other professionals. Most outdoorsy folks will wear some form of identification that gives their name, at least one contact person and any other pertinent information.
Road I.D.is one of many companies where you can find them. Mine is on a wrist stretch band so small I sometimes forget I’m wearing it.
What’s That Odor and Why Are My Eyes Burning?
Pepper spray or mace can be a safety accessory. You can find these in most sporting goods stores. Models vary from handheld to clips.
Some sprays can be considered a weapon and are not welcome everywhere, so think twice before throwing one in your handbag or pocket when you visit certain office or government buildings, arrive for a flight or travel by any means to foreign countries.
That’s my list. Now it’s your turn. What do you recommend adding as a low-tech safety accessory?
(A version of this post was previously published on sixtyandme.com.)
Although not using it as a safty accessory, I used hiking poles on my recent rim-to-rim trek of the Grand Canyon, very useful to transfer some of that effort to the upper body. But I sure see how you could frappe someone over the head with one of them, should the need arise.
Kevin, congratulations on completing the rim-to-rim trek of the Grand Canyon. Very impressive. I’m glad you didn’t need to use the poles for anything other than upper body support. Great going.
Sharing your experience about safety and helping one another says volumes about Mary Lou the person which is extends far beyond Mary Lou the runner. You deserve credit and appreciation.
Thanks, Jim. It was other runners and hikers who taught me many passive safety precautions. Others I learned the hard way which is a really good reason to save others from tough lessons.