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Though I’ve never been one to carry pepper spray with me when I go for a run, I understand why many do. Harassment and assaults are a real problem, especially for women. In a Runner’s World survey, 84% of women reported that they’d experienced some sort of harassment that left them feeling unsafe while running.
Those stats strike a stark contrast against one of main reasons I head out the door for a run on a regular basis in the first place — freedom. When I go for a run, I want to leave a bunch of stuff behind. Work. Email. Anything happening on my phone, including music. I want to hear birds and feel the wind on my face, sort some things out in my busy brain and not be bothered by headphones, texts or a can of mace banging at my hip. It’s a luxury to live in a place where I can do this without worry.
But from a safety perspective, I should have a little more with me when I go out: Carrying pepper spray or a noisemaker are both among the many great safety tips from the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation. (Marcotte was killed by an attacker on a walk from her family’s home.) I admit noisemakers weren’t on my radar until I got one in the mail to test it.
It seems like the safety team at Nathan Sports designed the SaferRun ripcord siren personal alarm with people like me in mind. This thing is easy to carry and truly unnoticeable. And now that I’ve tested it, I have to admit I’m out of excuses. This 1.1-ounce alarm is so light I forgot I was wearing it, and the clip held it snugly in place at my waist.
I waited to test this out until no one was around on a running path near my house. Since the alarm emits a siren-like noise at 120 decibels, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to freak anyone out. When I pulled the cord, the noise wasn’t deafening, but it was attention-grabbing for sure. The battery life on the ripcord alarm gives you 30 minutes of that siren, but I didn’t want to listen for long, so I pushed the pin back into place and continued my run — and subsequently forgot it was there all over again.
One complaint: It’s hard to get leverage on the top of the clip to open it. But that’s not a dealbreaker. In fact, the alarm is now in the tiny bin of gear I grab on my way out the door, alongside my sunglasses and Buff.
There are other personal safety devices out there that aren’t designed specifically for runners, and many of them are tiny enough that you could easily stash them in your purse, in your car or right on your keychain. (The Nathan alarm is a tad bigger than what I’d want for a keychain alarm, but it’s certainly light enough to keep in a purse all the time.)
The Kosin safe sound personal alarm comes in a pack of six colorful alarms that emit a 140-decibel sound. Just pull the pin out to trigger the alarm. It weighs about the same as the Nathan product.
The pack of six alarms is $19.99 on Amazon. People seem to love it: 85% of the more than 2,000 reviewers gave it five stars. A lot of commenters reported buying the pack of six to share with friends and family, which is a great idea.
And now that I have pepper spray on my mind, too, I might try this Sabre red pepper gel spray for runners, a tiny hand-held option with an adjustable hand strap for $9.88. It has a lot of good reviews on Amazon.
Stay safe out there!