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Trail users discuss staying safe

Trails in and around Columbia are becoming busier as the weather continues to warm up.

Trail users in Columbia gave advice to people on how to stay safe, whether they are walking alone or enjoying the weather on a hot day.

Heidi Clements said she runs or walks on the trails in Columbia very often and has for about the last 10 years. One thing she never walks without is her cellphone.

“You know, if you become dehydrated and need someone to come get you, it’s good to have your cellphone for that reason,” Clements said. “Or if something happens and you’re attacked or there’s an animal. I’ve come across several coyotes.”

Clements said she does not worry too much about her safety, other than her physical health.

“I’ve always felt safe. I know a couple years ago there was a girl that had been hit. And after that happened, I was a little scared to use the trail, but that’s kind of worn off now,” she said.

She said running or walking with a partner is the safest way, but she does not think people should be scared to enjoy the trails on their own.

“If you can, I definitely think that’s probably the safest route, but I also don’t think you should live in fear,” she said.

Brian and Anne Matlock also enjoy the trails in Columbia regularly, and they usually bring their pug mix, Murphy.

They also suggest people bring water, both for themselves and their pets. They also said sunscreen and hats can stop a sunburn from ruining a nice day for people.

The Matlocks said they also bring a cellphone.

“We always have at least one,” Anne Matlock said.

They use the buddy system because it’s their way of spending time together, but they said other people should try to, as well.

“It’s definitely a good idea to come with a friend when you can. And if you’re out here running by yourself, try to be aware of your surroundings,” Brian Matlock said.

They said people who are by themselves especially need to be aware of their surroundings.

“And even when we’re together, one of us, generally only one of us will have earbuds in or whatever and listen to music,” Anne Matlock said.

They said not having both earbuds in can also prevent people from getting hit by bicycles.

Lastly, they said it is important for people to follow the rules of the trails, whether they are riding a bike or walking.

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