Why you should wear a reflector in Estonia

Source: Triinu Haller

Why you should wear a reflector in Estonia

Source: Triinu Haller

The Estonians know a little secret for staying safe and visible during dark winter days. It's small, simple and inspired by a cat's eyes. Find out why you should be sporting a reflector whenever you are in Estonia.

Darkness inspired invention

Estonia is located quite north in the world; Tallinn sits at the same latitude as Stockholm, Oslo, and Juneau, Alaska. In the winter, the days are short - a mere six hours on the Winter Solstice in December. The early sunsets, however, do not stop people from going about their business and enjoying recreation. Tourists as well can enjoy the special things the dark nights have to offer, such as possibilities to glimpse the Aurora Borealis.

A spark in the night

Helkur (reflector) comes from the Estonian verb "to sparkle" or "shimmer".

Photo by: Lembit Michelson

When venturing out in the dark in Estonia, take a cue from the locals and wear a reflector. It is a small piece of plastic or fabric that makes pedestrians visible to oncoming traffic. The concept was first invented in 1934 by British road worker Percy Shaw, who was inspired by the reflective qualities of cats' eyes. Virtually all children and over two thirds of adults wear reflectors, largely due to a 2011 law that requires their use in darkness and conditions of poor visibility.

Stylish and practical accessories

Tiny lifesavers

Reflectors are sometimes referred to as "the smallest lifesaver" and come in a myriad of shapes and designs like this one from Helk.

Photo by: Triinu Haller

Reflectors may be utilitarian in purpose, but that doesn't mean they have to look like it. Many companies and designers have put their own spin on the traditional plastic model, creating everything from stylish tassels to playful characters. Some reflectors even pass for high-fashion brooches. Buying a reflector to wear during your stay is a good idea, but they will protect and make you visible anywhere in the world. They also make practical and novel gifts for anyone who loves jogging, cycling, hiking, travelling and for children. You might wonder how you ever lived without this little invention!

For some Estonian reflector designs, check out: KrentuKuKuJuKu Helku, Helk, Willow, and Dark Aid

Last updated : 22.09.2017
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