Hiking trails vary in length, difficulty level, and terrain. Before you head outdoors, it is important to do your research so that you will remain safe on the hiking trail and reach the end without any major problems or issues.
Tips for Staying Safe When Hiking
There are lots of ways to ensure safety when hitting the trails. If there is a park ranger available at the entrance or office, they can provide information about weather conditions, specific points of interest, possible dangerous wildlife sightings (like bears), and more. It’s always best to listen to them if they warn against certain areas based on time of day or recent events.
If you are not sure about the safety of an area, it is best to avoid it.
Before hitting the trails, go over any first aid skills one might need or know how to apply. One should also wear clothes that will protect them from the elements and bugs.
For example, if there’s a lot of underbrush on the trail, consider wearing pants rather than shorts so that ticks don’t have access to your legs. Wear shoes with traction so that mud or rocks don’t cause slips or falls. Wear sunblock so as not to be sunburnt after being outdoors for hours at a time. As well, drink plenty of water—it can get very hot outdoors depending on where you live and what time of year/day it is.
Start Out on an Easy Trail and Stay on Course
Do not start out on too adventurous a hiking trail if you have never been hiking before. Choose an easy trail to get started and stay on the trail the entire time. Veering off the trail can be hazardous and lead to danger from falling rocks, wild animals, getting lost, and much more, so do yourself a favor by keeping on the trail the whole time.
Wear Appropriate Hiking Boots
Purchase an appropriate pair of hiking boots so that when you set out on the hiking trail you will have the proper grip and traction needed to make it up hilly, rocky terrain, without slipping. Hiking boots should be comfortable and allow your feet plenty of room to breathe, without pinching or causing blisters. Break the boots in before you set off on your hiking trail so that you will not be stopping every few minutes and resting from ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes.
Avoid the Dangers of Dehydration
Dehydration can hit when you least expect it, so be careful to avoid this danger by packing plenty of water for the hike and drinking throughout the hike. Do not rely on weather reports to gauge how much water you will need to take with you, as dehydration can occur even when the weather is cool and overcast. Remember that when you have been exerting yourself you will sweat more, which will mean you will need to replenish lost fluids.
Most the most of your hike and enjoy yourself to the full by making safety your number one priority. Start out on an easy trail and then gradually build-up to the harder trails, wear appropriate hiking boots so that you will feel comfortable, and do not forget to pack plenty of water for the hike, to help ward off the effects of dehydration.
There are many dangers associated with hiking, not all of which are obvious. Some are pretty easy to avoid while others are not. The following list contains some of the most common incidents that can happen when people aren’t careful or prepared:
Slipping and falling.
This includes slipping on wet rocks, trails that have been washed out by rain or flooded with water, or just slippery ground in general. People who wear glasses should be extra careful as they could fly off their faces and break due to a fall. If you carry a walking stick (or hiking pole) this will help provide stability so you don’t slip if there is mud or snow on the trail. You can also try wearing hiking boots or other sturdy footwear with good traction.
Be sure to know where you are going and how to get back if the path splits in two or there is no trail at all. If you do happen to get turned around, stopping for a while and looking around will help reorient yourself. You can also ask other hikers coming your way if they have an idea of where you should go, especially if you are lost on a popular hiking trail that many people use. Before leaving home, write down both where your hike will start and end as well as the best route to take back in case of getting lost so you won’t forget any important information during panic caused by being disoriented.
People having fun on their hike will often be distracted and not think to look where they are going or what is around them. They may run into things like trees, low-hanging branches, and more. Distraction can also include tripping over roots on the ground or dropping something while hiking (like sunglasses).
There are many different scenarios that might lead one to get injured on a hike such as slipping and falling, getting stung by bees/insects/spiders/wasps, snake bites, dehydration if you’re too hot and don’t drink enough water, etc. Aside from having first aid kits at home and taking other safety precautions during your hike, always know how to perform basic first aid skills prior to heading out to the trails so that you will know what to do in case of an emergency.
Taking too many risks.
Not obeying rules and regulations established by park rangers/administrators, not thinking ahead (which is very dangerous when dealing with wildlife or entering cold water), not abiding by the speed limits established for cars when driving to the trailhead, etc. are all examples of taking unnecessary risks that could lead to serious injury or even death for one’s self and others involved.
Remembering these simple safety precautions will help prevent injuries so you can enjoy your outdoor experience!