There is some amazing views and beautiful lands out there for us to find and unwind in but please do be cautious and prepare BEFORE you head out. The information provided here is meant to be a basic overview of outdoor safety.
Whether you are wanting to experience fresh air away from the city, stunning views or peace and quiet, there is no better way than to take a hike out somewhere. You must remember that any time you enter a wilderness setting, the unexpected could be just around the corner.
1. Know Where Your Going
Your first port of call should be to thoroughly research the area where you intend to go hiking. This is a lot easier now with so many websites available to us but if the area has park rangers, they may be the best ones to ask for information regarding your safety. You should understand what you are likely to encounter such as critters, toxic flora and fauna, and terrain.
2. Don’t Go Alone
I like to go out hiking solo but it is also one of the most dangerous things that you can do, especially when hiking in new areas. If something was to happen to you, it gives a much better chance of help arriving fast.
3. Let Others Know
You should have a rough idea where you are going and the group all needs to agree. You should also know times, routes, destination, etc.
At least one person who is not going to be hiking with you, needs to also have a copy of the plan. If you don’t return on time, someone will be able to relay this key information to a search party if necessary.
4. Prepare for the Weather
You my think that this is as easy as listening to the weather forecast but you’d be wrong. Find out what inclement weather events are most likely for the time of year and how to stay safe in them.
5. Get the Essentials Right
The essentials that you pack should allow you to quickly respond to an emergency and spend a night outdoors if needed. These essentials include:
- First aid kit
- Map, compass, GPS
- Sun protection
- Extra layers of clothing
- Lighter or matches
- Small amount of duct tape
- Extra day’s supply of food
- Extra water or purification methods
- Emergency shelter such as a tent, tarp, space blanket or bivy.
6. Use the Correct Boots and Socks
One essential step to avoiding issues along the hike is to wear properly fitting footwear. If your boots do not fit properly it can lead to you rolling an ankle or worse. Test your boots out around the home or on a shorter hike than you have planned.
When it comes to the socks you wear, you should avoid cotton socks at all costs. They can cause blisters due to them retaining moisture. Instead, you should look for wool socks or synthetics that are made to wick away moisture.
7. Sun Protection
Where possible, you should try to avoid hiking in the peak hours of sunlight and heat. It is usually advised to set out in the early morning or late afternoon.
Any exposed skin should be slathered with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Other obvious ways of protecting yourself from the sun is to wear sunglasses, and a hat.
You need to be aware and ready to react to how you’re feeling at all times. Our body let’s us know when we are too hot, dehydrated or there is some other problem.
8. Water and Purification
It is generally recommended that we drink a minimum of half a liter of water during outdoor activities. This figure should never be followed as gospel as it will depend entirely on your specific situation. You may opt to take extra water along with you but it can get heavy fast. An alternate and highly recommended method is to take a purification straw in your kit. You should always at least boil any water before consuming to ensure of its safety.
9. Don’t Veer Off Course
If you start heading off trail or into areas where nobody else goes then you reduce the risk of being found if something was to go wrong. The trails are routinely checked for any risky obstacles which doesn’t happen off the track.
10. Start Small
If you are inexperienced when it comes to hiking then you are increasing the chances of the unexpected happening if you don’t practice smaller hikes first. This will also allow you to check over gear weights, break in your boots, and figure out your food and water usage.
11. Never Be Too Stubborn
If you need to turn back, do so!
Sometimes, all the practice we put in beforehand can still prove useless when the unexpected happens. When your whole focus is on the end point of the hike, it can be all too easy to make poor judgement calls.
Don’t think about the end but think about other objectives of the hike. Remember that you’re out there to enjoy yourself. Look at any obstacle in your path as a great opportunity to enjoy the view and turn around. We don’t aways reach our destination and that is perfectly fine. We still got out there and it was still an enjoyable hike.