Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wilderness Hiking Safety Tips

By Ben Reuter

Many people see hiking as an easy way to get active and enjoy the outdoors. Hiking is a fun, light hearted activity that allows people to exercise and enjoy the outdoors, but it is also a time of danger for the inexperienced hiker. 

There are numerous accounts each year of casual hikers getting lost in the woods and end up meeting a horrible end. Accidents while hiking are due to inexperienced hikers who do not prepare for their adventure into the wilderness. I say wilderness because hiking is entering nature and exploring its unknown areas, and with these unknown areas comes danger. Danger can come in many shapes and sizes, but if you follow my advice you will be safe and have a wonderful adventure with Mother Nature.

Hiking clothing should be light and loose. The reason for light and loose clothing is to keep as light and maneuverable as possible and for it to be loose enough for you to move around. However, if your clothing is too loose, it will become a hassle and hinder your maneuverability. I will give you my typical list of clothing for hikes, but keep in mind these are all weather permitting. 

The hotter the temperature, the less I wear, and the colder the temperature, the more I wear. Clothing is the most important item on your hike but footwear is the most important clothing item. You are going to be on your feet the entire hike and the footwear that you wear will determine if your hike will be enjoyable or not. The shoes you choose must fit your feet right. If they are too big or too small your feet will not be held properly within the shoe which enhances the chances of foot or ankle injury.

The clothing you wear while hiking is an extremely important part of being prepared for a hike, but so is the supplies you bring. Any physical exercise depletes your body of energy and water. To combatant this, you should bring at least one bottle of water and some sort of light weight food. If you are going on a longer or more strenuous hike, the more water and food you should bring. An example of what I bring when I am hiking is two bottles of water and three or four granola bars. In my opinion granola bars are the easiest to travel with but other great ideas are nuts, fruits, and Meals Ready to Eat (MRT).

Now you have the basic supplies that are needed for a successful hike, the next thing you will need is simple, awareness of the area you are hiking. Look at a map before leaving the house or bring it with you. Here is a list of important points to look for on a map that will make your hike easier and safer.
·        Note the colors of all the trail markers you will be following
·        Check to see how far the nearest housing development, or in-use roadway is from your hiking area
·        Calculate the distance and time of the hike you are planning.

Bringing a map with you is the best option in case you get lost or need to check back on your information. Even a five second overview of the map before leaving your house is better than not looking at all. Along with knowing your location, basic survival techniques are necessary when venturing into the wild, Fire, Shelter, Signaling for Help, First Aid. Knowing the basic aspects of these survival techniques can come in handy and save your life in a sticky situation. 

The last survival technique I will leave you with is this; In case of an emergency remember these two words, STAY CALM. Staying calm is the greatest advantage you have in an emergency situation. If you are not calm then you will not think clearly which will lead you to make rash decisions further putting you in peril. Stay calm, think clearly and you will create opportunity for rescue. 

You have read the basics about hiking safety and survival; are you ready to start your next hike? Stop and ask yourself for each item, what purpose does this serve? And will it hinder my hiking in any way? Refer to a map before leaving and remember to think clearly, stay calm, and above all else use your new skills in hiking to enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.

For more information:
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

No comments:

Post a Comment