Essential Hiking Safety Tips
Hiking is one of the best ways to spend time in nature. Open windows? Do you really want peace and quiet? Beautiful scenery? All OK, go ahead. Hiking is a great way to go outside and enjoy nature, but it also has some serious concerns. risks.
Christine Hoyer, a warden and backcountry management director at Great Smoky Mountain National Park, tells SELF, “No matter how experienced someone are or where you’re going, unforeseen events can and will happen in a natural setting.”
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to lessen the likelihood of having an accident while hiking and to prepare yourself to deal with one if one does occur. You may improve your chances of having a great time and staying safe by being well-prepared, as Hoyer puts it.
You may be prepared and travel safely by following these professional safety guidelines. Always remember to stick to them before setting out on a hike.
- Consult a park ranger.
The best places to go hiking are found in national or state parks. Rangers staff them, and they’re a treasure of knowledge about how to keep safe in that area. It’s a good idea to phone the park’s office, check the NPS website, or stop even by desk before you go out on your hike.
Hoyer recommends contacting the park service in advance to learn about “large and little creatures,” hazardous plant and animal life, and improvements made to the ground, such as downed branches or rock falls. The park service can provide you advice on how to conserve the ecosystem and how to be safe in the wilderness.
- Bring least one friend.
EMT Tod Schimelpfenig, a fellow of the Academy of Wild life Medicine and the director of the wilderness medicine curriculum at the non-profit National Open – air Leadership School (NOLS), advises SELF readers to engage in these events as part of a group to reduce the likelihood of being stranded alone. So “at least one companion can go obtain help,” he explains.
Prior to beginning your journey, you or your companions should have a conversation about the level of difficulty that is within everyone’s comfort zone, your overall schedule, and a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Let’s dive deeper into those final two points, shall we?
- Make plans and tell someone who isn’t going with you what they are.
Schimelpfenig recommends making a preliminary strategy that everyone in the group can agree on before setting off on the path. Put in your time and place of departure, your intended location, your route, and when you expect to arrive.
If you’re hiking in a new area, Hoyer warns this can be difficult to estimate how long it will take. For this reason, she stresses the importance of setting reasonable expectations and getting an early start. Share Tell at least two person who isn’t on the hike with you about the idea, as suggested by Schimelpfenig. This information can also be left at the park’s office. Should it become essential to send out a search party in your absence, this information will be relayed to them.
- Check the forecast, but also bring extra layers and rain gear on your hike
. If you want to know what kinds of bad weather are expected at this time year is and how to be safe in them, you can ask the park rangers or check the park website. Hoyer warns that “large storms can show up rapidly and unexpectedly, even with the finest weather forecast.”
Threats posed by thunder and lightning occur frequently. The NPS recommends that those caught in them seek shelter and spread out in case a single individual is injured (unlikely, but still). Be wary of metal and water, as well as any elevated or open surfaces (such boulders or fields).
- Make sure you have these 10 items.
The Mountaineers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation and hiking in the Pacific Northwest, developed a list of essential items known as “the 10 essentials.” The Mountaineers say that the purpose of the 10 Fundamentals is to make sure you can handle an unexpected situation and sleep outside for at least one night. Many hikers, both novice and seasoned, use it as a point of departure.
“The more essential items you take with you, especially when you’re new to being out there, the safer you’ll be,” Hoyer adds.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of NPS’s 10 Must-Haves:
- Safety equipment
- Wayfinding with a Map, Compass, and GPS
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are necessary for outdoor activities.
- Layers, raincoat, or jacket for warmth.
- Light sources: torches, lanterns, and headlamps
- Matches, lighters, and other methods of starting fires
- Kit for mending: duct tape and a multitool
- Food for at least one more day that doesn’t require cooking
- Intake of water and/or purifying methods for water
- A tent, space blanket, tarp, or bivy can provide emergency shelter (as in, emergency shelter for a sleeping bag)
6.Customize your first aid kit.
A readymade first aid pack with things like adhesive and stretchy wrap sutures and antiseptic is what Schimelpfenig suggests you invest in. Scrapes, rolled ankles, and bug bites are just some of the most frequent injuries hikers have, and this guide can help you cope with them. A first aid supplies can be purchased from any of the drugstore or ordered online. If you want to make your own, the Red Cross has some instructions to help you out.
Regardless of your physical condition, you might have to supplement your kit with additional supplies. When going trekking, “you don’t leave your health records in the car,” explains. It’s something “you carry with you.” If you have a chronic condition or an allergy that requires you to take medication, such as insulin for diabetics or an EpiPen for a bee sting, remember to bring it along.
- 7. Get some good hiking boots and a few pairs of socks.
It’s important to wear shoes that fit well and have plenty of padding and traction to minimise injuries like rolling your ankle. Another painful trekking obstacle, blisters, will be avoided with this method.
Talk to a knowledgeable employee at a camping goods store if you’re at a loss. Next, Schimelpfenig suggests breaking in your footwear at home and/or on a short hike (more on that in a bit). Don’t wear cotton socks, either. Schimelpfenig claims that they make blisters more likely because they trap sweat from the wearer’s foot. Wear hiking socks made of wool or synthetics that are designed to wick away sweat and reduce friction. (Schimelpfenig also suggests removing your boots and socks when sitting to rest, which will help keep your feet dry on the trail.) Blister dressings should be included in your first aid bag at all times. Schimelpfenig recommends stopping immediately at the first hint of pain to check for indicators of a developing blister, such as redness and irritation. Also, it’s a good idea to use blister treatments before setting out on a hike if you’re breaking in new boots or have a particularly sensitive spot.
- Bring a water filtration system or extra water supplies.
While exercising in the great outdoors, the NPS suggests taking in half a litre to a litre of fluids every hour. The length and difficulty of your trip, as well as how much water you typically drink, will determine how much water you should bring with you. Learn thyself, as Schimelpfenig advises.
If you’re going on a short hike, it’s not necessary to carry a lot of water with you. However, if you want to lighten your load, you should research whether or not there will be places to fill your bottle with drinkable water and whether or not there are any natural water sources along the trail. You can get this information from the park rangers or the site itself if you’re visiting a national or state park.
In the event that you have access to clean water from natural sources, you can save weight on your expedition by ditching the heavy water purifying equipment you brought along. According to the NPS, boiling water only requires a heat-safe container and a source of heat. It is also possible to use a physical filter to get rid of the bigger particles, and then follow it up with a tablet or liquid disinfectant to get rid of the smaller bacteria. Never risk your health by drinking untreated water on a hike (or otherwise). The NPS warns that even the clearest spring water can be tainted with dangerous bacteria and other microorganisms.
- The second half of the trail is more difficult, so please take extra precautions.
Hoyer observes that “accidents like falls, slips, and trips frequently occurred in the second portion of a trip or towards the conclusion of the day.” Your stamina is low, your leg muscles are tired, and your mind is probably more preoccupied with the end goal than the next step. Take it slow and watch where you’re stepping.
- Maintain a back-out plan.
All day long you can talk to people and study maps. Hoyer warns that “you’ve got to be willing to turn around” when “the rubber meets the road” and hard choices must be made.
When you’re determined to reach a specific goal, you can ignore warning indications that your body needs rest, force a lagging team member to catch up, or continue on when a storm is threatening.
It’s simpler to be adaptable if you have some other goal in mind outside reaching the top, whether that’s literally or figuratively. Keep in mind that your goal is to have fun. Take any setback as a “wonderful opportunity to admire the view and turn around,” as Hoyer puts it. It’s possible to have a fantastic hike even if you don’t end up where you had hoped to. It’s about your current location and status as a traveller. This is the exciting part.