Hiking allows you to be out there and enjoy the beautiful and uninterrupted ecosystem. It’s an experience with many benefits, like helping you connect more with yourself, relieving stress, pressure, and other negative emotions, enhancing cardiovascular health and boosting brain power.
On the flip side, hiking can be dangerous. You’re susceptible to serious falls, bruises, bad cuts, sprained ankles, broken limbs, etc. However, taking proper safety precautions helps reduce the chances of getting injured or harmed.
Good preparation is essential regardless of your hiking route, crossing scenic meadows, going up a steep slope, or doing it alone or with a group.
When hiking, you’d want to carry your laptop or phone to help you communicate with your friends and family and keep up to date with what’s happening. How and where to charge them? Service providers like Ecoflow have improvised one of the world’s fastest and most portable charging power stations. Hence, this portable product can charge your devices when hiking.
Having said this, here are some tips to keep yourself safe during an outdoor hike:
- Seek Guidance from a park ranger
- Keep someone informed on where you are
- Wear good shoes
- Keep Essentials with you
- Beware of wildlife
- Know how to navigate bad weather
Seek For Guidance From A Park Ranger
Many state or national parks have rangers, also called environmental specialists, to guide the visitors. These trained professionals have critical information regarding hiking sites and parks. They can guide you on the following:
- Things that you might encounter at your trailhead like, for instance, fallen trees
- Any recent adjustment to the terrain
- Flora and fauna that you need to stay away from
Apart from giving insight into the above details, they’ll also give you tips on keeping safe and what you may need to achieve the same. Moreover, they’ll always be in close range and ready to act if an accident happens during your hiking.
Keep Your Loved Ones In The Loop Of Where You’re Going
When going on an outdoor hike, you must let your family or friends know where you’re going and when you plan to return. You should stay on the trail to avoid getting lost and occur injuries while hiking. And, if you decide to deviate from the initial plan after you’ve left, you need to communicate with your loved ones.
Other details that you need to inform them about are as follows:
- The expected return time
- The list and number of people you’re going on the hike with
- The color of clothing you and your team will be wearing
- The color, license number, and model of the car you’ll be going with to the site
- If any of your group members have any essential medical needs
Doing this makes it easier to divulge the details to a rescue team if you encounter any harm or don’t return on the stipulated date.
Ensure You Have The Right Footwear
When going on an outdoor hike, it’s essential to invest in good gear. Your hiking footwear shouldn’t only provide comfort but also promote your safety. Moreover, it should provide the following:
- Stability and proper balance
Thus, proper hiking boots protect your toes and feet from the following:
- Stubbing on a rock
- Scrapping them on a tree
- Poisonous elements like ivy or oak
- Rattlesnakes’ bites
- Twisting on wet rocks
Apart from the above, proper hiking footwear have treads crucial in providing excellent traction to your feet. Thus, the chances of falling or slipping on your hiking trail will be minimal. There are many types of footwear suitable for your hiking. The most popular ones among them are:
- hiking sandals
- barefoot and minimalist hiking shoes
- hiking shoes
- trail-running shoes
- hiking boots
- mountaineering boots and
- backpacking boots
The best type of hiking boots to go for are leather ones. Leather is waterproof and tough, guaranteeing maximum protection. Those made of woven polyester are equally an excellent choice and offer more ventilation, hence are a good choice if your hike involves sporty activities. However, the problem is they need to be waterproof to protect and keep your feet dry, whether it’s downright or sprinkling pouring. Apart from that, they offer a different level of protection than leather boots. In this regard, if you’re stuck between choosing the two, it’d be better to go for the leather ones
Have Your Essentials In Place
Sometimes, emergencies happen while on your hiking trail. In preparation for these, there are essentials you need to have to help you quickly respond to emergencies if they occur. Some of these essentials include the following:
- Navigation map, GPS, and compass
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlight, headlamp, or lantern
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Lighter, fire starters, and matches
- Multipurpose tool
- Duct tape
- Water or water purification tablets
- Emergency shelters like a tarp, tents, bivy, or space blanket
- Extra supply of food
When you have the above essentials, taking care of emergencies is easy. One more item that you need when hiking is a whistle. It’s louder than your voice and can help you raise the alarm when you have an emergency or get lost.
Beware Of Wildlife
When going for an outdoor hike, you must know there’s a high chance of encountering wild animals. What matters is knowing how to handle them when you meet them. So, it’s essential to research the wildlife you’re likely to meet and how to react when encountering them. Your park ranger can offer clear insight on the same.
One piece of advice that the experts will give you is to avoid disturbing wild animals in case you see any of them while on your hiking trail. Try and keep your distance to avoid triggering them to get aggressive. Even small animals can harm you if they feel threatened.
If you meet a bear, try backing away slowly, so it doesn’t notice you. And, if by any chance it spots you, don’t run away. Instead, continue backing away slowly till you find a safe spot while keeping an eye on it.
And, if it’s close, try moving sideways in a circular motion around it. While doing that, you can make some noise and wave your hands in a non-aggressive manner to look more prominent than the bear. It will help the animal know you’re not prey or a threat.
If you see the bear standing on its hind limbs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s trying to attack you. Experts say they have poor vision; in such a case, they’re trying to see you better and sniff the air. Thus, you need to be calm and walk away.
Note: Avoid climbing trees when you see a bear because they climb trees better than you can. Additionally, if you must take selfies, ensure you’re at least 200 feet away. And do it quickly before the animal notices you.
Ideally, to avoid being susceptible to animal attacks, it’s essential to follow all the tips on how to escape from a bear and other wild animals as given to you by your park ranger. You may also want to pack a gun if the laws in your area allow it. It is handy when a wild animal turns aggressive, and you must protect yourself.
Know How To Respond To Bad Weather
Before going on an outdoor hike, check weather forecast apps or websites to know what to expect. And, while on your hiking trail, you need to be aware that thunderstorms can turn into heavy downpours.
Thus, if the conditions have started deteriorating, set up your shelter and call it a day, or wait until the weather conditions are favorable. Ensure you set the tent in an open place away from towering objects like trees because wind can break off the tree branches, causing them to fall on your tent. If you’re not too far into the wilderness, you can turn around and return to your car or any nearest building.
Another thing to know is that water is very powerful. So, crossing rivers and streams is risky. If you must cross a flooded path, grab a long steady stick or pole to help you cross, and avoid lifting your feet high above the ground, as the sweeping force of water can destabilize you. However, keeping off from valleys is best once it starts raining. Instead, stick to higher grounds, where the risk of meeting torrential streams is minimal.
An outdoor hike is a recreational activity with immense benefits, like helping you connect with nature and relieve anxiety. However, you may encounter some dangers, like wild animals, floods, rugged terrain, or getting lost. So, to keep yourself safe, it’s prudent to notify your loved ones of where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Moreover, you’d want proper footwear and safety essentials in an emergency. It’s also good to be escorted by a ranger, especially on hiking trails you’ve yet to go. And remember to have a fully charged phone throughout the hike for communication with fellow hikers and your loved ones at home. Observing all these tips will help you bring your outdoor hiking goals to fruition while on the safe side possible.