You will sometimes find me walking along country roads, sometimes beside heavy traffic on pavements that are so narrow you could easily get hit by the wing mirror from a passing car! Which is why I have decided to share some of my tips on staying safe when walking. Been there done that!
This post is all about how to stay safe walking. From walking in the country, walking to school, walking on your own and how to stay safe walking at night. I will cover general safety tips that I use to make sure I’m safe and I want to pass these on to you. Although there is no accounting for cell phone reception out in the country – as my husband and I found out about recently. Honestly I was a sight to behold waving my phone in the air trying to get a signal. I wouldn’t have minded but I was only 20 minutes away!
How to be safe walking in the country
Here are some of the lovely animals I come across on my walks in the country…
Walking in the country isn’t without risks. I think the main one is that there are no pavements. If you are walking in the country it’s important that drivers can see you. Opt for reflective gear (if you have any) and walk facing the oncoming traffic so drivers can see you. While there may not be too many cars, they often travel quicker than they should. I’ve had experience of this recently so knowing where to walk is very helpful. I sometimes walk on the grass verges just to be on the safe side. In the countryside you can often hear cars coming so it will give you time to move if you need to.
Something that can catch you out walking in the country is the weather. While it may be sunny and warm where you are, heading to the country can be different and you may experience lower temperatures and cloud. Make sure you are prepared with suitable clothing. I would suggest checking the weather forecast but honestly I have found it to be worse than useless lately! From my recent experience of walking in the country I often opt for a coat that will keep me warm and one with a hood just in case it rains! There have been times when I should have brought a hat it has been so cold but if you walk briskly you will get heated up in no time at all!
My trusty thermos flask for nice cold water, a small torch, a snack and cell phone. Although it’s not charged so useless if going for a walk!
If you are going for a long walk, I highly recommend you take water and a snack with you. I carry a water bottle in my handbag on all occasions just in case. It’s because I know that after walking my 40 minute journey to the train station I am thirsty. When I’m walking at weekends I sometimes bring a snack just in case the walk takes longer than I thought it would. I’m not talking picnics here, a flap jack is just fine!
This brings me on to another tip for walking in the countryside and that’s check your route beforehand on Google Maps. This way you won’t get lost. Having a charged cell phone is great, however often there is no reception for calling so print your route out or write it down and bring it with you. Of course also let a loved one know where you are going and what time you expect to return.
I often let my husband know where I’m going and check the time on Google Maps to see how long the route should take. That way we both know not to worry unnecessarily. He also does this if he is heading out cycling – especially at weekends as he can be away for up to four hours so I like to make sure I know his route and what time it will take.
How to be safe walking to school
When we first moved to this area, we opted for driving the kids to school. After a year of that we decided walking would be better. There were just too many cars and the road was so narrow that it really wasn’t worth the hassle of driving. I also felt that if some parents could park in the classroom they would!
Parenting can be hard work, knowing when they can walk to school themselves!
We felt that our children were too young to walk by themselves so we walked with them for the first couple of years. Walking to school gives you such a healthy start to the day, you don’t have to wrestle with the school traffic that often takes twice as long to get to the location. It also sets the kids up for a great day by getting some fresh air.
As a parent you know yourself whether your child is ready to walk to school on their own. I think the kids were 10 when we started allowing them to walk to school on their own. We did brief them to be cautious around traffic and the junctions they encountered walking to school.
We felt it was great experience for the boys walking to school, from getting that little bit of independence, to knowing the area they live, to understand traffic and crossing roads. Of course it was great fun for them as a lot of their friends would walk to school too.
When our boys moved to post primary school they had further to walk but they were already used to walking to school that five more minutes wasn’t such a big deal to them. We made sure they knew the correct route to their new school, they often walked with friends or together when they were both in post-primary and they knew the dangers of the road and strangers.
How to be safe walking alone
I do a lot of my walking alone, however it is always in day light. However, it is now coming in to the dark nights and this time last year I wasn’t walking. I have prepared myself for the weather in terms of clothes but I haven’t really prepared myself for walking in the dark which is why I have read a lot about safety walking. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I will be doing to keep safe when I’m walking alone.
Reflective Gear: I have decided to get myself some reflective gear. I’m not talking expensive gear I’m going to opt for getting reflective bands just to wear when I’m walking to the train station on my way home as I know last winter it was dark when I was getting the train. I’m also going to get reflective bands for my bag.
Keep ‘er light: My husband has a small torch which I am going to borrow as on my route home I have noticed there will be some places that there doesn’t appear to have any street lights. I think this would be a great idea. I have seen those LED headlamps but I do think this would be too much unless I was walking along a country road at night – which I don’t intend to do!
Music free: I love listening to music when I walk as it gives me the inspiration I need to kick it up a gear or too. However, it is very distracting when walking in the dark. It takes your attention away and is a distraction from what is happening around you. Instead I’m going to opt for going music free when I’m walking in the dark. Recently I have noticed that a lot of people are walking while looking at their cell phones. This really is such a distraction too. Not to mention the fact someone could nick it from you! Don’t let yourself be distracted when you are walking at night. Keep your phone in your pocket.
If you do go out walking at night I thought you may find it helpful for me to share some of the things that I do to keep myself safe. These are things that I feel keep me safe at night, either way I hope they help you if you are heading out walking at night time.
Wear good walking shoes: practical shoes are an excellent option when going for a walk at night time, especially if at any point you feel uncomfortable, you can walk quickly to get to where you are going.
Keys at the ready: If you have taken the car to go for a walk on the beach or countryside, on the way back get your keys ready. I would also suggest you don’t unlock your car until you are getting ready to get in either as it will ensure you aren’t fumbling and are ready to rock and roll right away.
Keep to well-lit and familiar areas: walk in areas that you know the route and are well lit. Don’t go through unnecessary short cuts or dark alley ways. Remember too about walking into the oncoming traffic so they can see you.
Stay distraction free: Keep your phone in your pocket and headphones out of your ears to make sure you are fully aware of your surroundings. This will also help you stay alert and notice any sounds around you.
I hope the above tips are of help to you. Another option you have is to change the time of your walks or purchase a treadmill and walk indoors until the lighter nights come back. Whatever you do stay safe and happy walking folks.
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