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Hiking Safety Tips
Setting off into the wilderness for a hiking adventure is a great way to unwind. You can unplug from the world, be at one with nature, and get away from the stresses and strains of life.
Hiking is a very popular pastime. But it’s not without its dangers. In fact, according to the statistics, hiking is more dangerous than skydiving. Yep, that one surprised us too!
Whether you are setting out on four-hour hike, or you will be camping out for four days, preparation is the key to safe hiking. You need to wear the right clothes, and you need to take the right equipment with you. You also need to follow some basic hiking safety rules.
Don’t set out on a hike ill-prepared. Read these top hiking safety tips to keep you safe on the trail.
1. Make a Checklist of Gear
Don’t risk forgetting to take essential gear with you when you go hiking. Make a checklist so that you can be sure that will pack everything you need.
If you are hiking over long distances, going back to get something you forgot is not going to be an option.
2. Allow for The Fitness Levels of Your Fellow Hikers
If you are hiking with a group, hike at a fitness level that is suitable for everyone. Consider the length of the hike, the elevation, and the difficulty.
If you are unsure if a trail is suitable for your group, you can check the trail with this tool on Nwhiker.com.
3. Wear Appropriate Hiking Gear
On short trails, you might be OK with sneakers. If you are hiking over long distances, though, a good pair of hiking boots is a must.
Wear clothing that is appropriate for the weather. And, bear in the mind that the weather can change fast in some parts of the country. So, prepare for all possible types of weather.
4. Pack a First Aid Kit
Always take a first aid kit with you when go hiking. Being able to treat minor wounds on the trail will save you cutting your trip short. It could also buy you time until help arrives if a member of your party suffers a serious injury.
Choose a first aid kit that is portable and that is suitable for the number of people in your group. Bear in mind too how long you will be on the trail for.
5. Research the Area
If you will be hiking in an area you are not familiar with, do your research before you set out.
Check what the weather conditions will be like. Find out what dangerous animals are in the area. Check what poisonous plants you might encounter. And, familiarize yourself with the local hunting areas and seasons.
6. Check the Weather Forecast
Check the weather forecast right before you set out on the trail. It will help make sure that you pack the right gear.
If bad weather is forecast, check with the local Parks and Recreation Department to see if the trail plan to follow will be passable
7. Take a Map and a Compass
You should take a cell phone with you when you hike in case of emergencies. But you won’t be able to guarantee getting a signal when you are on the trail.
You shouldn’t expect to be able to rely on your phone’s GPS when hiking. You should take a map and compass with you, and you should know how to use them.
8. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated on the trail is important on both long and short hikes. You should aim to drink about 1 litter of water of every 2 hours or so when you are hiking.
On short hikes, you can carry your water with you. If you are planning on being out for several days, though, you will need to filter your water on the trail.
9. Make Sure Someone Knows Your Planned Route
Tell someone at home what your planned route is and when you expect to be back. And, if you can, check in with someone at home to update them of your latest position.
If someone knows what your plans are, they can alert the authorities if you don’t check in or if you are late getting back home.
If you tell someone what your route will be, the emergency services will know where to look if you have an accident.
10. Protect Yourself from the Sun
When you are out in the sun all day, you will be more at risk of getting sunburned.
Apply sunscreen every morning before you set out and remember to top it up throughout the day.
Use a high-SPF sunscreen and apply it every part of exposed skin on your body. Sunburn is very painful, and it can cause skin cancer.
11. Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks
When you are hiking a trail, you will be some distance from emergency services. So, don’t get cocky and don’t take risks.
Jumping over rocks or climbing trees might seem a great idea at the time. But, if you break a leg, or even sprain your ankle, it could mean a painful end to your outdoor adventure.
12. Stay with the Group
When you are hiking with a group of people, keep the group together.
It can be easy to let the slower members of the party fall behind but keep everyone together.
If you have people of different abilities in the group, put a slower walker in the lead.
Hiking at a slower pace is much better than a straggler becoming separated from the group.
13. Hike in Daylight
Unless you are a very experienced hiker, it is safer to hike in the daylight hours only.
It’s easy to get lost in the dark and accidents are more likely to happen. The night is also the time that wild animals come out on the prowl.
Time your day-hikes so that you return to base before sunset. If you are camping out, give yourself plenty of time to set up camp before night sets in.
14. Protect Yourself Against Insects
Mosquito bites and ticks can spread disease. Insect bites can also be very uncomfortable on the trail.
Use a good insect repellent when you are hiking to keep the bugs away. When you get home, check your body and your hair for ticks.
15. Keep Your camp Site Clean
If you are camping out, keep your campsite clean. This applies to both camping at organized campsites and camping out in the backcountry.
If you leave scraps of food or unwashed dishes out, it will attract wildlife.
Don’t leave anything lying around the campsite either. Someone could trip on it if they must answer the call of nature in the night.
16. Stay on The Trail
One of the most important hiking safety tips to remember is to stay on the trail. If you venture off the trail you may get lost. You may also encounter wild animals or poisonous plants.
If you stay on the trail, first responders will be able to find you faster if you have an accident.
We hope you found our hiking safety tips useful. If you did, please do share this page with your friends on social media.
You may also like our camping safety tips for first time campers.
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Have a great day, a wonderful summer, and, stay safe!