It’s that time of year again. The warm weather is finally here and we are excited to get outside!! Even though we all love to get outside during the warm weather months, there are many hazards that we need to be aware of so that a good time doesn’t end up in the hospital or worse. Here are some tips for staying safe in the great outdoors to make your time with Mother Nature a fun and memorable one:
- Travel with a companion – In case of an emergency, it is definitely better to have a buddy along for backup. It is also a good idea to give someone else who isn’t going on the excursion a copy of your plans. Be sure to include the make, year, and license plate of your car, the supplies you will be bringing, anticipated weather, and when you plan to come home.
- Be in good physical condition – This is not a race…set a comfortable pace for your abilities. It is a good idea to warm up before you start. Always check with your doctor if you have any underlying medical conditions and make sure you have the skills to handle whatever camping or hiking excursion you plan on taking.
- Think about footing while navigating near steep ledges – It is best to stay on developed trails or dry, solid rock areas with good footing.
- Wear appropriate clothing – Think about the trail conditions as well as the seasons. Also be sure to protect yourself from ticks by wearing long shirts and pants that are light colored. Tuck pant legs into socks.
- Check your equipment – Make sure your supplies and equipment are in good working order before setting out. Pack emergency signaling devices.
- Be weather prepared – Follow the current and long-range forecasts. Weather can change quickly especially in higher elevations. Learn how to tell when there is an approaching storm and stay away from bare ridge tops, exposed places, lone trees, streams, and rocks during a lightning storm. Find shelter in a densely forested area at a lower elevation.
- Learn basic first aid – This will help you identify and treat injuries/illnesses. Be sure to carry a first aid kit with you.
- Make camp before dark – It is best to travel only during the day to avoid accidents from falls. Learn about your terrain during the daylight hours. Be sure to have a good flashlight with you if you have to move around in the dark. Stick to areas you saw during the day.
- Be alert for slippery areas – Leaves can hide slippery surfaces (i.e. rocks). It is also not safe to run due to low-hanging branches and various terrains.
- Alcohol and cliffs don’t mix!! – Judgment, agility, and balance are all reduced by alcohol. Leave the alcohol at home!
- Think before you drink – Although it is important to stay hydrated, stream water can contain water-borne parasites and microorganisms. This can cause discomfort or illness. It is best to pack your water in, or purify through chemical treatment.