Safety on the Run
Are you a safety-minded runner? Do you take responsibility for your own
safety and well-being? Do you run defensively? The purpose of this brochure
is to provide you, whether a seasoned or novice runner, with some technical
and common-sense information to help you run safely. "Safety on the run"
should be an integral part of your running program.
- Run on sidewalks where available as required by law.
- Run on the left side of the road facing traffic. You will be in a better
position to anticipate and react to vehicles.
- Run on roads with wide shoulders.
- Be cautious on blind curves where you will not be visible to approaching
cars. Be aware of factors that affect motorist visibility - glaring sun,
rain, snow, fog.
- Run single file when running in a group - particularly in high traffic
- Anticipate potentially dangerous situations and be ready to deal with
them. Always make the first move to protect yourself. Do not expect cars
to alter their paths to avoid you.
- Obey traffic rules and signals. Runners, as pedestrians, are bound by
- Yield the right-of-way to vehicles at intersections. Drivers may not
heed traffic signals or signs.
- Be alert at all times. Be wary of "runner's high," fatigue, or any lapse
- Carry identification or write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe. Include medical information. Don't wear jewelry.
- Ignore verbal harassment. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers.
- Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
- Avoid running alone in isolated areas - vary your route. Run with a dog.
- Use your ears as well as your eyes - don't wear headphones.
- Wear reflective clothing at dawn, dusk, or nighttime and bright, visible
clothing at all other times.
- Carry a cell phone or change for a phone call. Know the locations of call boxes and telephones along your regular routes.
Running in sun, heat, and humidity requires that you take special
precautions. Minimizing fluid loss and heat gain is essential. Some tips to
- Drink water whenever possible. Water is the vital ingredient in the
prevention of heat injury. Thirst is not a reliable indicator to warn a
runner of fluid loss. Your body loses a considerable amount of fluid before
you feel thirsty.
- Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages which have a diuretic effect.
- Wear white clothing to reflect the ~sun's rays. Avoid dark clothing which absorbs heat.
- Run during the coolest part of the day.
- Choose a shady course.
- Run where you have access to water.
- Splash yourself with water to aid in cooling your body.
- Remove wet clothing which hampers evaporation.
- Be aware that increased humidity blocks body cooling via evaporation of
- Avoid running when relative humidity exceeds 90%.
- Avoid running long distances alone.
- Know the warning signals of heat-related problems:
- Do not try to run through heat cramps. Stop, rest, drink water.
- Signs of heat exhaustion are faintness, weakness, and mental confusion.
If symptoms develop, stop, find shade, drink water.
- Signs of heatstroke are decreased sweating and hot, dry skin. Stop all
activity and find a means of cooling your body as rapidly as possible.
Remove clothing and rub body with ice and alcohol. Seek medical treatment.
- Consider another form of exercise when adverse weather conditions make
Intensify efforts to run safely in times of adverse weather conditions. The
cold should not stop you if you dress properly and adjust your plans. Some
tips to keep in mind:
- Precede your run with a good set of warmup exercises.
- Wear multiple layers of clothing. A wide variety of clothing is designed
specifically for cold weather running. Absorbent cotton should be worn next
to your body. Wool insulates well and will help retain body heat even when
wet. A nylon windbreaker is a good outer layer and can be removed and tied
around your waist if not needed. Experiment to find the best clothing
combination for you.
- Make sure your head and neck are well protected, as a significant amount
of body heat is lost through these areas.
- Protect your extremities from exposure to prevent frostbite. In the
early stages you will notice a burning sensation in the skin. Skin color
will change from red to purple to white. If you notice a white, sensitive
area, get out of the cold immediately. Contact a physician.
- Plan your course to run against the wind as you begin and with the wind
as you return.
- Shield yourself from the wind whenever possible.
- Remember that any terrain becomes treacherous when covered with a thin
layer of ice or snow. The results are poor footing, for the runner and the
dangerous possibility that a car may skid or slide.
- Use an alternate route when snow accumulation leaves only a narrow,
cleared lane for cars. Always ensure a margin for safety.
- Know the warning signals of hypothermia; a feeling of disorientation,
loss of hand coordination, slurred speech, difficulty walking. If you are
shivering, seek a warm place at once.
- Do not run long distances alone in adverse weather conditions. Observe
running companions for signs of cold injury.
- Remove wet clothing as soon as possible. Wet clothing increases the risk
of cold injury.
- Remember that replenishing fluids is just as important in the winter.
- Consider another form of exercise when adverse weather conditions make
Running Safety Tips For Women
Before the run:
- Try to get a running partner.
- Leave word with someone or write down where you plan to run and when you
- Carry some I. D. and change for a phone call.
- Take a whistle with you.
- Do not wear a radio/headset/earphones or anything which distracts you so
that you are completely aware of your environment.
- Avoid unpopular areas, deserted streets, lonely trails - and especially
avoid unlighted routes at night.
- Vary the route and the time of day that you run.
- Run in familiar areas. Be aware of emergency phones and how they work,
note the location of neighbors you trust along your route.
- Know where police are usually to be found and where businesses, stores,
offices are likely to be open and active.
During the Run:
- Always stay alert. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
Think about possible escape routes in case of a confrontation.
- Take notice of who is ahead of you and who is behind you. Know where the
nearest public sites are with some general activity - there is usually safety
- When in doubt, follow your intuition and avoid potential trouble. If
something seems suspicious, do not panic, but run in a different direction.
- Run clear of parked cars, bushes, dark areas.
- Run against traffic so that you can observe the approach of automobiles.
- If the same car cruises past you more than once, take down even a partial
license number and make it obvious that you are aware of its presence (but
keep your distance).
- Run toward populated areas, busy streets, open businesses.
- Ignore jeers and verbal harassment. Keep moving.
- Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Be friendly, but keep your
distance and keep moving.
- Do not approach a car to give directions, or the time of day. Point
toward the nearest police or information source, shrug your shoulders, but
keep moving. If you feel you must respond, do it while moving.
- Do not panic. Do not run toward a more isolated area.
- Keep as calm as possible. Try to fix a description of the attacker in
- Do not show fear or plead - this intensifies aggression in most cases.
- Try to talk to the aggressor and look for an escape opportunity - a
moment of indecision or distraction on the attacker's part.
- Do not fight or struggle with the attacker unless there is clearly no
other way out, especially if you are untrained in self defense.