Hiking and camping aren’t risk-free activities though. Careful preparation before your trip can help keep you safe on your travel. Here are 7 safety tips to keep in mind.
Let someone know where you’re going
Tell someone you trust what route you’re taking, how long you’ll be gone, and when you will come home. This might sound silly if you’re planning on bringing a cell phone, but keep in mind that your phone might not work on the trails. If something happens while you’re on the trails and you don’t arrive home when you’re supposed to, someone will know that you’re in need of help.
The more prepared you are for the unexpected, the better. Throw some emergency supplies into your backpack, such as a first-aid kit, extra batteries for your flashlight, and a map. If you end up getting lost or injured while hiking, you might need these items.
At the same time, however, don’t forget to pack essential supplies. Remember to bring sunscreen to avoid getting burnt, insect repellent to avoid getting bit, healthy snacks to keep your energy up, and any supplies you’ll need while camping. If you haven’t already, also make sure to invest in a good pair of hiking shoes to prevent blisters.
Know your insects
Even with insect repellent, there is still a high chance you’re going to experience mosquitos, spiders, bees, and ticks while you’re hiking. It’s important to know when you’ve been bit, what bit you, and how to keep swelling down. If you find yourself the victim of a tick, make sure that you’re familiar with the symptoms of Lyme disease. You’ll often spot a bull’s-eye rash forming followed by flu-like symptoms. It’s important to seek medical help immediately if you think you have Lyme disease.
Sanitize your water
If you’re planning on using water from rivers or streams while you’re hiking to avoid carrying heavy water bottles, make sure to treat the water. Contaminated water can result in you experiencing vomiting and diarrhea — and if you’re in the middle of nowhere without clean water, you’ll quickly dehydrate.
Boiling is always the best way to kill pathogens. If boiling isn’t possible, use a combination of filtration and chemical disinfectant. Consider purchasing a backpacking water filter to take with you on your travels.
Be aware of the animals and plants in the area
The wildlife you experience while backpacking will vary by area, but always know if there is a chance of running into poisonous plants or dangerous animals. Most parks have a website that will list the plants and animals that are found in the area. This will allow you to avoid backpacking there if you don’t feel comfortable or will allow you to know what animals or plants to look out for.
Most animals will run from you and there are ways to prepare your campsite so that they’ll stay away. For example, if the area has raccoons running around, you’ll want to make sure to properly dispose of any trash around your campsite so that a raccoon doesn’t come around looking for a midnight snack.
Be aware of the weather
Before you start your journey, always check the weather to make sure you’re not going to run into a storm. If it does start storming, know how to seek safety. Enclosed buildings are always the best shelter. If there are no buildings, remove your backpack and any metal items from your person. Leave your supplies at least 100 feet away and seek shelter at the lowest point possible, preferably under low trees or around large boulders. Crouch down, duck your head, protect your ears, and close your eyes. This will help to minimize your chances of getting struck by lightning.
Take the time to rest
Don’t push yourself too hard. If you feel yourself getting winded or sore, take a break from hiking and catch your breath. Make sure to stop and set-up your campsite at a reasonable time, eat a balanced meal, and get some sleep. If you’ve never backpacked before, start with a smaller trail before moving to a larger one.
Backpacking is a great way to explore the outdoors, but you want to take necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy. Preparing in advance and knowing what to do in an event in an emergency can help prevent a serious injury or illness.