How to Stay Safe on a Hiking Trail by Caroline
Hiking, like any exercise, can be dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions before beginning. Aside from the normal risk of injury associated with any workout regimen, hiking presents a myriad of potential dangers you might not have even considered.
Here are four ways you can stay safe while hiking.
1. Know Your Limits
If you get winded when walking up the stairs of your house, then common sense should tell you your first hike shouldn’t be a steep eight-mile climb. With hiking, unlike a workout at the gym, you can’t quit when you get tired. You have to complete the hike. When planning your route, it’s important to choose a trail you know you can complete, so you don’t end up stranded in the middle of a trail with no way to get back to your car.
2. Supplies and Equipment
You should never go on a hike without supplies, even if you only plan to be out for a short time. Anytime you’re in the great outdoors, you should plan for the worst-case scenario. If you get lost or injured, you don’t want to be without any supplies while you wait for help.
Water is a must-have on any hike. You should plan to drink about a half a quart of water on a basic, one-hour hike. If the weather is hot and dry, you’ll need to increase your water intake, so plan accordingly. You should also bring high-energy food, such as a protein bar or trail mix.
You’ll also want to make sure you have the proper gear for whatever location you’ll be hiking. Usually, this will include hiking boots, long pants, sunscreen and a hat. You may also want to wear long sleeves or dress in layers.
3. Plan Ahead
You should always have prior knowledge of the trail you’ll be hiking and a basic understanding of the terrain before you head out. Depending on the level of trail maintenance, trail signs might be difficult to spot. If you’ve researched the trail ahead of time, you can watch the landmarks and ensure you aren’t straying from the path.
It’s also important to understand approximately how long your hike should take, so you can begin hiking with plenty of time to finish before nightfall. Being lost in the woods at night is not fun, and being well prepared in advance will ensure a smooth hiking experience.
4. Safety First
Safety should always be your top priority when heading out to hike. Check all your equipment to ensure it’s in proper working order. If you’re using a GPS or other electronic map, be sure to have a paper map for backup in case your mobile device gets damaged or loses signal.
If possible, you should use the buddy system when hiking. If you’re hiking alone, always tell someone where you’re going, exactly which trail you plan to hike, and when you plan to be home. When possible, check in and out at a park’s ranger station, so the rangers know your intended location within the park. Then, if you do encounter a problem on the trail, someone will know when and where to send help.
Hiking can be one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise there is. If you follow these basic safety tips, you’ll have a fun and safe time on the trail and go from novice to expert in no time.
About the Author: Caroline is a writer for Secure Thoughts. When not at her computer, she enjoys hiking, yoga and Pilates. She likes to share her experiences through her writing and hopes to help others live a healthy lifestyle.