Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Walking as we know is the easiest, cheapest exercise we can undertake, however as evenings get longer and days shorter if we are to continue our walking programme, we may have to walk outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when it is dark.
If you are properly prepared this should present no problems. The first important rule if you are walking in poor visibility conditions is to BE SEEN. Just because vehicles have headlights does not mean that you can be seen from a sufficient distance to avoid you. There are several ways you can increase your visibility.
Wear light coloured clothing. Dark clothing merges with the background and makes you almost invisible. However wearing light clothing, while it is a help, is not sufficient. You should also wear some bright reflective gear. Sports suits now come with high visibility stripes on arms and legs and these reflective strips alert traffic to your presence. Both top and bottom should be striped to give the impression of the human form.
If you haven't a suit with these inbuilt stripes it is possible to buy adhesive reflective strips which can be affixed to front and back, sleeves and legs of your sportswear. Velcro reflective wrist and ankle bands will also alert oncoming traffic as you move.
Walking shoes and trainers can now be bought with similar reflective strips. If you are not in need of new footwear you can stick adhesive reflective stickers to the heels. Anything you can do to increase your visibility increases your chances of walking safely.
One of the most effective ways to be seen is to wear a high visibility vest. These are made of a light material in bright orange or yellow with reflective strips and are worn over your sports wear. This is a cheap and effective way of being seen. For wet conditions it is possible to buy reflective jackets and leggings in warmer, heavier material. You should wear reflective clothing at least an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise. In fact high visibility vests are so light that it would be good practice to wear one on every outing. Even in daytime they aid visibility.
If you like to walk with your dog there is a high visibility vest available in different sizes for your dog!
When walking in an area without footpaths you should always walk facing the oncoming traffic. This helps you to monitor the traffic and take evasive action in time if necessary.
A headlamp or hand held torch is a must if you are walking in an unlit area. Keep it trained on the ground in front of you to alert you to any obstacle which might cause you to fall or trip. Headlamps are useful as they free your hands. For extra visibility there are clip-on lights which can be attached to clothing.
When walking in the dark stick to familiar routes and routes which are used by other walkers. Walk with a friend if possible and do not use ear-phones to listen to music or radio. You need all your wits about you to keep safe. As you can see there is no need to give up your walking just because it is dark. Just be sensible and take extra precautions.
Enjoy your walking and roll on those longer and brighter days!
Below is a sample of some reflective gear available.Enjoy your walking and keep safe.
And for your dog