Stay safe during your run

In October 2015, in Panama City, Florida, Darrell Corbin was jogging through a local park on a Wednesday morning, when he suddenly found himself surrounded by a pack of five pit bull-type dogs. He was taken completely by surprise, as he regularly jogged through the park and had never had any problem with dogs before. Unfortunately for him, on that morning, the dogs had broken free from their owner’s yard – who was not at home – and were looking for blood. Within moments, Darrell was on the floor, being savagely mauled by the dogs and screaming for his life. Thankfully, two passers-by heard the screams and one called the police while the other tried to intervene in the attack with his German Shepherd.

It was this intervention that gave Darrell the time he needed to get up and away from the dogs. The dogs were rounded up and corralled by Animal Control and Darrell was taken to hospital to receive treatment for his injuries. Thankfully, he survived the attack, but had it not been for the quick intervention of the man and his dog, it could easily have been a fatal attack.

Dog attacks, especially when involving a pack, can be extremely dangerous, and many regular joggers do not have a plan to deal with them. Carrying a large stick and a can of mace can provide the jogger with a deterrent, a distraction and a defense against one, possible two dogs. When confronted by a pack of dogs, only your behavior can save you.

Firstly, stop jogging. Sometimes dogs don’t want to fight, but it is their natural instinct to pursue you and things can escalate from there. Don’t turn your back on the dogs but don’t confront them head-on either.  Walk slowly past them side-on. and call the emergency services. You won’t have a chance to do this if you are attacked. If the dogs move towards you, stop. They are testing you out. If the dogs get the message that you don’t want to threaten them, but you are not afraid, you may be able to prevent an attack. If an attack does happen, shout and scream to attract attention, and try to avoid going to ground. If you have any alcohol or chemical products, try spraying the dogs’ noses. If the dogs manage to take you down, stay still and protect your head and neck by raising your arms around them. Dogs kill people by attacking this area. If you are lucky you may get away with bites to your arms, hands and the back of your head.

Dogs, of course, are not the only thing joggers have to worry about. There is a chance that people may attack, too. In this case it’s important to try to find the reason you are being attacked. If it’s for your money or possessions, let the attacker have them. Reaching for a gun may cause them to do the same. If you are being followed, don’t be shy to start attracting attention and shouting. This will usually stop and attacker from proceeding. If your life is in danger, pretend to cooperate with your attacker until you have a window in which to escape or to incapacitate them. Again, a cellphone and mace are important tools for joggers.

For city runners, traffic can be a big danger. Where possible, stay away from it. Don’t listen to music. Be aware, on the sidewalks, that you also pose a danger to pedestrians, especially children and the elderly. If there are people around you, don’t jog. Try to jog at a running track or in a park. If you are concerned about venturing into the park alone, jog around the periphery, close to the streets.

As a last resort, consider buying a treadmill and doing your jogging from within the safety of your home. This eliminates most outside threats, but still isn’t free from the risks inherent with jogging itself. It’s important to learn how to avoid accidents using your treadmill at home. In addition to that, make sure you warm up properly and pay attention to your body. If you feel stiff, tight or have any pain, your body is telling you it’s not safe to jog.

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