This story was originally published in the Chicago Tribune Prime Time senior living section.
Spring allows folks to get a jump on their outdoor walking, hiking and biking. Whether you’re on a busy bike path or a deserted trail, it’s important to stay safe while getting your steps or miles in. Here are some gadgets that will help you return home in one piece.
1. Personal alarm
When out alone on the trail, it’s great to have a way to call for help quickly. The Wrist Alarm by Vigilant is a hands-free personal defense alarm that is worn like a watch. It emits a 130-decibel alarm designed to scare away an attacker and summon help. Its one-size-fits-all design ensures that it can be accessed quickly from your wrist with a push of a button on its face. An attacker cannot easily turn it off because the “off” button is hidden on the back. It retails for $19.99 at online retailers such as Amazon.com.
2. Animal deterrent spray
Unfriendly animals you may encounter while exercising outdoors can be humanely deterred by using PetSafe brand SprayShield Deterrent Spray. It’s a citronella spray that will not harm an animal but is designed to surprise and distract it, allowing you time to escape. The small spray canister has a maximum reach of 10 feet and comes with a belt clip. Sold in pet stores for about $10.
3. Lighted dog collar and leash
Many people love to walk, run and hike with their canine companions. Those furry friends are lower to the ground, and need to be visible in the dark. In addition to lighted accessories for humans, Mace Brand Nite Beams sells LED lighted collars and leashes. They are made from high-quality nylon designed to be seen from up to a quarter-mile away. They have two light modes (solid, flashing) that can be changed with a push of a button. Like the human Mace Brand Nite Beams products, the collars and leashes come in a rainbow of colors and have replaceable batteries. The leashes have a special swivel feature at the top and bottom that prevents them from becoming twisted. Collars retail for $7.49 and leashes for $12.49 at mace.com.
4. Lighted waist belt
If you like jogging at dawn or dusk, the Mace Brand Nite Beams Waistbelt is the perfect accessory. It’s a fanny pack with LED light strips on it, which can emit solid or flashing light. The Waistbelt is designed not to bounce around and is big enough to hold a phone and water bottle. There is a loop to hold pepper spray or similar on the front. The lights are powered by two replaceable batteries, and the LED bulbs have a lifespan of 100,000 hours. It has other convenience features such as a headphone access port and a top-loading zipper pocket. The LED Pocket Waistbelt comes in four colors and fits waist sizes 28-44 inches. Retails for $14.99 at mace.com.
5. Bicycle lights
Bike lights are not just for lighting the road at night like headlights. Most cycling accidents occur during the day, so why not use a bike light as a “daytime running light?” Flashing lights on the front and back of your bike will definitely get a driver’s attention. CatEye is a popular and affordable brand of bike headlights, taillights and spoke lights. CatEye lights are sold at bike stores and sporting goods stores. Expect to pay about $20 to $40 for a set of front and back lights. You might want to try its line of rechargeable lights if you are tired of burning through batteries. (Tip: Take your bike to the store and ask the staff to install the lights for you.)