Basic Hiking Safety
Planning a hike goes beyond layering your clothes and packing a compass. If you don't research your route and take safety precautions, a day on the trail can turn into disaster.
Hiking for fun and recreation can be a great way to spend time outdoors. However, basic hiking safety is necessary in order to make sure that your trip doesn't turn into a tragedy. With planning and reasonable expectations, hiking can be a safe sport in which anyone can participate.
Map out your route before setting off into the wilderness. Tell friends or relatives where and when you will be hiking, and when you expect to return. Purchase a map of the area and familiarize yourself with the terrain and trails. If you have a GPS, pack it, as well.
Water is the most basic necessity, and hikers often fail to bring enough with them. If you are hiking in the summer, weather conditions may change and temperatures may rise significantly. According to Hillclimb Media, "Your body can only absorb about 1 quart of fluid per hour, so drink .5 to 1 quart of some type of electrolyte replacement drink each and every hour that you are hiking in the heat. Carry your water bottle in your hand and drink small amounts often. The average adult should drink approximately 4 quarts of electrolyte replacement drink for every 8 hours spent hiking in the heat."
Know Your Limits
There are hikes for all abilities, so make sure that you don't try to exceed yours. Heart attacks or injuries may occur if you are attempting to hike a trail that is too strenuous for your fitness level. Once you have found a trail that suits your needs, take breaks as often as needed, and stay well-hydrated.
A basic first aid kit will come in handy in the event of an injury, or even small scrape. Knowledge of basic first aid techniques and CPR can come in handy in the back country. Check with your local agencies to find classes.
Changing weather conditions can be deadly if you are not prepared. Layer clothing and bring a rain poncho. In the case of lightning storms, stay away from tall trees and go quickly to the lowest lying land you can find. On hot summer days, bring plenty of water and sunscreen as exposure and temperatures may increase dramatically. In the fall, be prepared for cold weather or snow; pack warm clothing and matches in case you need to build a fire.
If You Get Lost
If you have mapped out a hiking plan and informed friends or family of your whereabouts, help will be on the way as soon as they realize that you are missing. The best course of action is to stay in one location so that search parties can find you. Try to find a meadow or clearing where you may be seen from the air. A GPS is a good investment. Bring your cell phone, but be aware that you may not have reception in the back country.
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