As we transition more of our training efforts to the great outdoors from stuffy trainer rides and treadmill sessions, we often look to update our clothing, equipment and nutrition at the beginning of a new racing season. So far, for me, this includes a sexy Pearl Izumi kit that I’m eager to rock as well as some newly-released products by PowerBar. As athletes we are always looking to better ourselves with new skills and gear, but unfortunately we often overlook our personal safety. When was the last time you purchased an item designed to increase your safety and how often have you actually used this item?
Over the past few months I’ve read articles in my local news regarding an alarming number of accidents. These include runner vs. cyclist, cyclist vs. cyclist and athlete vs. vehicle. The injuries sustained by people involved in these accidents have ranged from minor to fatal. Thinking about these accidents has caused me to carefully consider details regarding my own safety, as well as the safety of those I train with. For starters, let me ask you, if something were to happen to you while you were out on a long ride or run, would emergency personnel even be able to figure out who you are?
There are many products in today’s market designed to identify their bearers. No one product is necessarily any better than another, the important factor is that it is used effectively with all pertinent identifying information included. ID products come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. These may be found on shoelaces, ankles, wrists, necklaces, watch straps and even causation bands. The minimal information that should be included on these products, regardless of the item chosen, should include: first and last name, year of birth, medical conditions/allergies, and at least one emergency contact name + phone number.
You may say, “I carry my phone while working out, so I don’t need an additional identification device.” However, a personal phone is not necessarily the most reliable vehicle for delivering quick information about its carrier to emergency personnel. Those responding to an emergency may be able to treat you medically, but they do not have super-powers when it comes to electronics. When you put a passcode lock on your phone, this not only locks out your children from sending random texts and tweets, but it also locks out emergency personnel from being able to obtain information about you from the phone. This is the case even if you have entered an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact or app. Additionally, emergency responders cannot fix a shattered screen or crushed phone in the event that your phone is destroyed in an accident. An ID tag is far less likely to be destroyed in an accident and provides those responding to the accident with an easy-to-read source of crucial information about you.
In addition to having an accurate and accessible ID with up-to-date information on your person while training, here are some additional tips to consider to increase your personal safety
Swim Safety Tips (pool):
* Let someone know when, where and how long you will be gone
* If possible, swim with a friend or training partner
* Make sure you have a laminated emergency card with important information poolside (I put mine under my water bottle)
Swim Safety Tips (open water):
* Let someone that will stay on land know when, where and how long you will be out on the water
* Never go open water swimming alone. Make sure you have a friend or training partner with you. This could be someone on shore that can see you during your entire route, a friend in a paddle craft in the vicinity of your route, or a fellow swimmer staying close to you.
* Make sure you wear a swim cap in a bright color for high visibility
* Have your ID and/or emergency card in a location that is visible to emergency responders waterside (for example, in a backpack on the dock)
Running & Cycling Safety Tips
* Let someone know your planed route and duration of workout. If this is not convenient make sure to write down your planned route, duration of workout, and start time. Leave this in your house or on your desk at work.
* While cycling obey all traffic laws. This means staying in bike lanes and stopping at stop signs and red lights.
* While running obey all pedestrian laws. This means crossing at designated crosswalks and waiting for proper crossing signals.
* Turn down your music! If you are unable to hear the sounds of your bike or the strides of your feet, your music is too loud. In addition to turning down the music, try using only one earbud.
* Make sure you have some sort of identification, whether it be a government issued ID or a wearable ID band.
* Wear highly visible clothing in all light conditions.
Staying safe while training and racing is a serious responsibility, both for yourself personally and for the sake of friends and family who love and depend on you. As athletes we can help one another stay safe while training with simple reminders and suggestions. Post your favorite safety tips in the comments below