In response to the recent attacks in and around Prospect Park, here are a few safety tips to help you avoid dangerous situations. These are merely suggestions; whether to follow them is at your discretion. Thanks to Janet Gottlieb and Tom Meany for their help compiling these.
- Consider finding a partner. If you would like a running companion for a given day and time, you can post in the PPTC Open Forum.
- It's safer during the day. Darkness makes it more difficult to identify potential threats; there are also fewer people around. Particularly before sunrise or after sunset, it's best to run in populated and well-lighted areas with clear lines of sight.
- Trust your instincts. If your first impression is that someone might pose a threat, avoid that person and keep moving. Better safe than sorry.
- Be loud, if necessary. Don't be embarrassed to yell to call attention to the situation. Some runners carry a whistle or an inexpensive personal alarm that will let out a loud shriek at the pull of a ripcord.
- Know your route. Many places can serve as refuge: subway stations, businesses, police precincts, etc. Consider plotting your run in advance (such as by using MapMyRun) to see where these are, and to avoid routes that run through isolated areas.
- Keep your valuables at home. Most attacks in the park are muggings, in which the criminal is seeking your property. If you must carry your phone, it's best to keep it out of sight; leave flashy jewelry on your nightstand.
- Headphones are problematic in multiple ways. Not only do headphones significantly restrict your awareness, they also indicate you are carrying something valuable. It's better to save them for the busier times of day, and when you do wear them, keep the volume low enough so that you can hear what's going on around you.
- Carry a few essentials. Having your ID (either a card or a wristband, like RoadID) can be invaluable. Write your blood type on the inside of your shoe. You might also consider bringing a MetroCard and a small amount of cash, just in case.