For many of us, an escape into the great outdoors sounds wonderful. Having suffered lockdowns, quarantines, and working from home, any activity outside sounds great. As a result, many people have decided to explore the countryside by going on their own hiking adventures. Such experiences offer a chance to reconnect with nature while respecting social distancing rules. They also invite opportunities for self-reflection and meditation. But at the same time, such excursions can have some notable risks. It’s fine to be bold, but hiking safety is always a top priority.
Every year, over 2,000 hikers get lost in the mountains and woods. In most cases, these bold adventurers turn out to be okay. But several hiking deaths also occur each year. In fact, in terms of relative risk, hiking adventures are comparable to parachuting, hang-gliding, and boxing! This is why hiking safety is so important, especially given the increase in park attendance in year. Some national parks are reporting a 90 percent year-on-year increase in hiking enthusiasts. Thus, a little bit of planning and preparation can go a long way.
Planning Your Hiking Adventure
When it comes to hiking, a number of accidents can occur. Inclement weather is common as are falls and head injuries. You may even encounter unexpected wildlife that poses a threat. Without question, hiking adventures offer bold opportunities to help you grow as a person. But they also demand a little preparation in advance. With this in mind, the following are 8 hiking safety tips you’ll want to consider before starting your hiking adventures.
- Hiking Safety Tip #1 – Know Where You’re Hiking
If you’re new to hiking, it’s important to know where you’re hiking. Hiking adventures can be fun, but they’re not so great when you encounter something unexpected. Ideally, choose to hike in national or state parks where rangers are present. Call ahead or stop by the office to ask about any specific recommendations. By knowing your terrain, you’ll be better prepared and make better choices. And this can certainly save a great deal of frustration later.
- Hiking Safety Tip #2 – Make and Share an Itinerary
Though not a bad idea for solo travel and other trips, having an itinerary when hiking is important. This lets someone else known when and where you should be. That way, if you fail to show up, help can be arranged. In terms of creating a schedule, be sure to be realistic about your times so no one begins to worry needlessly. But certainly include this in your preparation as an added measure of safety.
- Hiking Safety Tip #3 – Bring a Companion
Two heads are always better than one when it comes to hiking adventures. While hiking alone can be peaceful and refreshing, it’s also good to have someone around to help you. If an emergency occurs, one of you can seek help while the other stays. Likewise, problem-solving is usually better when you have someone to discuss your options. You can always take a solitary moment on your hike, but companionship is a good safety measure to consider.
- Hiking Safety Tip # 4 – Stick to the Trail
Hiking adventures can bring out the bolder side of you. But choosing to take the road less traveled is not always a great idea when hiking. Most hikers who do get lost made such a decision. The vast majority of parks have plenty of challenging trails that don’t require hikers to stray. And should you need assistance, it will be much easier to find you if you’re in a known location.
- Hiking Safety Tip #5 – Prepare for All Types of Weather
By all means, you should check the weather forecast before your hike. This can tell you precisely what to bring and what you’ll likely need. But the weather can change suddenly, and therefore, it doesn’t hurt to prepare. Cold exposure and heat exhaustion are not uncommon hiking injuries. Likewise, thunderstorms and white-out snow storms may also occur. While it’s important to be realistic, it’s also important to have some options should the weather change.
- Hiking Safety Tip #6 – Have an Emergency Plan
It’s always better to anticipate an emergency than it is to deal with it when it arises. That’s why emergency personnel invest heavily in planning and preparation efforts. Likewise, you should also have an emergency plan for your hiking adventures. This means carrying a GPS device, batteries, cell numbers, and critical supplies should something happen. Combined with a shared itinerary, this could be a true life-saver.
- Hiking Safety Tip #7 – Make Sure You Have the Essentials
In terms of critical supplies for your hiking adventures, a number of essential hiking items need to be included. A first aid kit, flashlight, nutrition and hydration are naturally key items you’ll want to include. Likewise, you’ll want to be sure you have proper footwear and even something to provide shelter, such as a tent. Along with a navigational device, phone, and charger, these are considered the bare essentials if going on an extended hike.
- Hiking Safety Tip #8 – Don’t Bite Off Too Much
Reports of hiking mishaps this year are increased over years past. One of the main reasons for this has been hikers getting themselves in situation for which they weren’t prepared. If you’re new to hiking, you should therefore take a few smaller, easier hikes and work your way up. There will always be another time to test your skills on hiking adventures in tougher terrain.
Hiking Adventures Are Great for Personal Exploration
In addition to great exercise and exposure to fresh air, hiking adventures are also good for the soul. They can take you to some of the most breathtaking places. Likewise, immersing yourself in nature has healing capacities and offers great opportunities to reflect. This past year is certainly deserving of that for all of us given the challenges we have faced. As long as you keep safety in mind, hiking is a great activity that can help with personal growth. And it’s a wonderful escape to remind us that’s there’s so much more in life to appreciate.
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