There is nothing quite like a peaceful walk in nature to help calm your mind and ease your stress. Hiking isn’t just great exercise, it’s also a great way to enjoy the scenery and the fresh, open air! But there are some cautionary measures you should take before heading to the trails so that you can avoid potential problems and hazards. So as you lace up your boots and set off on your next outdoor adventure, keep in mind these tips on staying safe while hiking in the wilderness!
Precautions & Preparation
Staying safe on your hike starts well before you arrive at the trailhead. Properly preparing is vital to making sure you are fit for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. Implement these tips before you take off and you’ll be better off once your hike finally begins!
- Let someone know where you’re going to be hiking and your anticipated time of return.
- Avoid hiking alone. Groups tend to be more formidable against predators, so grab some friends and use the buddy system!
- Time your hike right. During the daytime is best since predators tend to be more active at dawn, dusk, and at night.
- If you’re taking your pet along, be aware that they may attract predators, and keep them on a short leash at all times.
- Leave foods and items that are especially scented at home as they can attract unwanted creatures, like bears, who have an acute sense of smell. Opt for dry foods instead.
- Do your research and know the terrain. Read a guidebook or even just look at the topography of the trail with a google satellite image. Do whatever you can to get a better idea of what to expect along your journey.
- Check the weather and dress accordingly, keeping in mind that skies can turn at a moments notice, so prepare for the unexpected too!
- Have a first-aid kit packed to take along, but be realistic about what to include so that you don’t have to carry around more than you need.
Avoiding Hiking Hazards
There are some actions you’ll want to take once your hike begins to increase your chances of avoiding dangers and potential threats. With a little bit of common sense and some insights and know-how, you should have a successful adventure free from problems!
- While hiking, make sure to let your presence be known by creating noise so you don’t spook an animal. Singing or clapping as you move are just a few methods of noise making.
- Avoid getting close to wildlife, and don’t feed them. Give them their space. You don’t know how they will react, and no matter how cute they are, all animals should be regarded with caution.
- Stay with your group and set a pace that everybody can maintain. Don’t go ahead of the group and don’t let anybody fall behind.
- Check the ground for things like snakes before sitting down or picking up supplies, and watch where you step and put your hands. Avoid thick brush and going off-trail as well.
- Pack and drink plenty of water. It isn’t just wildlife you need to worry about. You’ll need to stay hydrated too!
Worst Case Scenarios
No matter how prepared you are and no matter what precautionary measures you take, unexpected occurrences can still happen in the wild. When your worst case scenario becomes a reality, make sure you know what to do to best increase your chances of survival.
Animal Encounters: If you are confronted by a predator who poses a threat to you, make loud noises and try throwing sticks and rocks in its direction to scare it off. Back away slowly without turning your back, and avoiding running as it may trigger its predatory instincts to give chase.
Stuck In The Wild: If you get lost or if for some reason you can’t complete your hike, stay put and find shelter. Try your best to keep warm and dry. Be sure you’re visible and make an effort to be heard. If you hear helicopters overhead, seek a clearing so that you can be seen from the sky. Bringing a CD-ROM can help you to reflect light and signal search and rescue from the ground.
Hiking is a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get exercise while enjoying the beauty and seclusion of the great outdoors. Don’t let the fun of the hike distract you from the hazards though, and be sure to keep these tips in mind so you can stay safe in the wilderness. Have any other hiking safety tips? Let us know in the comments!