On the trail hiking safety tips
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Wildland Safety.

Always be prepared for survival situations.

 Be Safe Out There. Driving to the trailhead, hiking along the trail or bushwhacking and camping in the backcountry need some special techniques and good equipment. Keep your tent, sleeping bag, backpack and other gear in tip top condition.

Wildlife needs your respect, especially if you are part of their food chain. Learn to incorporate preventative techniques in your normal routine and you’ll not need to be apprehensive while in bear or cougar country.

Safe drinking water is one of your main concerns. Water filters and water purifiers provide safe and convenient water wherever you are.

To fully enjoy the great outdoors you must feel safe and secure. Whether you're new to the wildlands or have spent several years trammeling about, learning or reviewing safety tips is always beneficial.

Be aware of hypothermia whenever in cool, moist windy situations.

So pack up your tent, sleeping bag, and camping gear on your pack frame and get out there. 

NOTE: Please click on bolded words for additional safety information< ><-->


Hiking Safety Tips  

No one ever plans to get injured or lost, but it happens.  Each year, search and rescue crews spend numerous hours searching for hikers who did not return on time, slipped on slipper slopes, got off the trail or encountered other problems.  Follow these tips from the pros for a fun and safe hike.

·      Avoid hiking alone because the “buddy system” is safer during any type of activity.  If traveling with a group, never stray from the group.  If hiking alone, pick a well traveled trail.

·        Tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Before heading out prepare a schedule that includes:

1. An itinerary of planned travel route(s), date of travel, destination, and estimated time of departure/arrival.

2. Check-out/check-in system.

3. Names of participants.

4. Emergency phone numbers/communication system and contact points.

5. Other information pertinent to the trip or activity.

Don’t forget to check in with them when you get back.

·      Stay on marked trails.  Making shortcuts and “bushwhacking” causes erosion and greatly increases your chance of becoming lost.  As you hike, pay attention to trail blazes and landmarks.  Be alert for a change in trail direction or intersection. 

·      Always carry quality rain gear and turn back in bad weather.  If you become wet or cold, it is important to get dry and warm as quickly as possible, avoiding hypothermia.

·      Dress in layers and avoid cotton.  Today’s hikers can choose from numerous fabrics that wick moisture, dry quickly or conserve heat.  Many experienced hikers wear a lightweight shirt that wicks moisture, while carrying a fleece pullover and waterproof jacket in their backpack or a daypack.

·      All hikers should carry a whistle, which can be heard far away and takes less energy than yelling.  Three short blasts is a sign of distress. 

·      Carry plenty of drinking water and never assume stream water is safe to drink.  Frequent hikers might consider buying a water filter or water purifyier.

·        Safety needs to stress the importance of being physically fit as well as the need to practice these walking/falling techniques:

1. Identify safe routes and local conditions.

2. Use warm-up and stretching exercises. Stretching the calf muscles is particularly important to reduce the incidence of shin splints.

3. Test and use secure footing. Walk, never run, down slopes.

4. Maintain a safe walking distance between people (10 feet minimum).

5. In heavy undergrowth, lift knees high to clear obstacles. Slow down and watch your step.

6. Always carry items on the downhill side.


7. Know how to fall. Try to land in the least obstructed spot. Protect your head and back. Roll with the fall. Do not stick out your arms to break a fall.


8. A walking stick or trekking poles help in preventing falls.

·      Don’t count on cell phones to work in the wilderness, but if they do, be able to give details about your location. Telling rescue personnel that you’re lost by a big tree won’t help much as telling which trailhead you started from and how long you’ve been hiking.

·      Don’t rely on a GPS to prevent you from getting lost.  Batteries can die or the equipment can become damaged or lost. Its often difficult to relate a GPS reading to a specific spot on a map.

·      General Requirement. Wear shoes with slip-resistant heels and soles with firm, flexible support. Slips, trips, and falls are the leading causes of field accidents and injuries. Invest in good hiking socks and boots.  Avoid blisters by carrying “moleskin” (available at drug stores) and applying it as soon as you feel a hot spot on your feet.  Available in the foot care section of drug stores, moleskin is like felt that sticks to your skin. 

·      Wear bright colors.  Don’t dress children in camouflage. 


Carry an Emergency Kit

Each hiker should have these items:

·      Water

·      First aid kit

·      Whistle

·      Small flashlight with extra batteries

·      Glowstick

·      Energy food

·      Brightly colored bandana

·      Trash bag (preferably a bright color, such as “pumpkin bags” sold in autumn).  Poke a hole for your head and wear it as a poncho to stay warm and dry.

·      Aluminum foil.  Strips can be tied into tree limbs to reflect searchlights.  It can be molded into a bowl for water. 


Especially for Children

·      Talk to children about what to do if they become lost, no matter what the location (city or wilderness).

·      Teach children that they won’t get into trouble for becoming lost. 

·      Reassure children that people (and possibly dogs and helicopters) will look for them if they become lost.  Do not hide from searchers; answer their calls.

·      Do not run.  Instead, “hug a tree” and make a comfortable “nest.”  This prevents wandering even further.

·      Do not be afraid of animals or strange noises.  If something is scary, blow the whistle.

·      Come up with a password that a child will respond to if a stranger needs to pick them up.  Searchers can use this password.


What to Do if You are Lost

·      Stay put.

·      Make shelter.

·      Stay warm and dry.

·      Be visible and heard.

·      If helicopters are searching overhead, seek an opening rather than thick tree cover.  Lie down so you look bigger from the air. 


We hope it makes your outdoor experience more enjoyable. For questions or suggestions, please contact us.