Hiking can improve your muscle strength and sense of balance, and reduce the risk of respiratory and heart disease. What’s more, walking and chatting with friends and family in the beautiful nature can help you reduce stress and keep away anxiety, and improve your relationships with others. But don’t forget that safety is the most important thing when enjoying the scenery along the way. Hiking outdoors may seem wonderful outwardly, but if you’re not prepared, you might get hurt or even get lost in the wilderness.
No matter how experienced you are or how much you know about the wilderness, you can’t predict the unexpected things that will happen in the wilderness, such as dangerous creatures and sudden rainstorms. You don’t want a hike to hurt you or your partners, so get your safety and hiking gear ready in advance.
Professional national park rangers have posted tips on the Internet to avoid danger, which can reduce your chances of encountering an emergency and help you deal with it. These considerate safety tips have been carefully arranged to help you have a perfect hike.
1. Consult a park ranger.
In general, the best destinations for hiking trips are national or state parks. These parks have rangers who are in the field parks all year long and collect real information. They are familiar with the backcountry areas they are in charge of and have many safety tips for hiking. Check in by calling as you specify a hiking plan, or visit the park service site for weather, fixed routes, rest stops, and more. It’s best to go to the park office and ask the rangers and staff for some advice before entering the park.
You need to consult information such as how to deal with dangerous animals and plants in the park, which routine is safe and has beautiful views, where you can find rest stops and natural water sources. The key information may be difficult to find on the website, you need to get it from experienced people.
2. Prepare emergency measures and equipment.
When you make plans with your hiking partner before departing, you must take into account what to do in an emergency situation. After you check the park website and the usual measures, you also need to get the first aid phone number from the park after you get to the park. And check your hiking bag according to this list:
1) Is your mobile network service available in the backcountry? Are you bringing a fully charged cell phone as a standby and a portable charger?
2) Have you taken a satellite messaging device or satellite phone?
3) Is the park emergency call valid? If invalid, please call 911in an emergency.
4) Please carry a signal that can express help, such as: whistle, handheld flares, flare guns，flags, flash tape and sharpie marker. (Click here to check how to use them.)
3. Purchase the hiking essentials.
If you’re a beginner on hiking, please buy hiking gears based on this carefully prepared list. These essentials are generally recognized as the best help for a safe and enjoyable hike, especially if you spend night outdoors. If you have a few hiking experiences, please check if you need to replenish the new gears. It’s never wrong to be prepared.
1) Navigation and battery: map, altimeter, compass, GPS device, satellite communicator, or satellite phone, extra batteries or battery pack
2) Extra food: such as freeze dried backpacking
3) Hydration: beyond minimum supply, or the means to purify
4) Extra clothes: sufficient to come through an emergency weather
5) Illumination: flashlight, lantern, or headlamp
6) Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, and sunscreen
7) First aid kit: alcohol pad, bandage, insect repellent, painkiller or more
8) Repair kit: multifunctional tool
9) Fire: matches, lighter, backpacking camping stove
10) Shelter: tent, tarp, bivy, raincoat
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4. Create an itinerary that is easy to complete and share it with park staff.
Write down a rough itinerary based on the destination and the actual conditions of your partners. It should include your starting point and departure time, destination, route and estimated time of arrival. It is best to split the plan by day and specify the anticipated arrival time each morning and afternoon.
It should be something you can easily accomplish without aiming for big goals. Predicting the time it will take to complete a walk is difficult and unrealistic because you don’t know what contingencies you will encounter. After all, you’re not familiar with the terrain, and there’s always the possibility of accidents.
Share this schedule with the park staff and leave your phone numbers. And tell the staff to be vigilant if you can’t arrive on time and to contact you within one hour to confirm your situation.
5. Be ready to “give up”.
Keep in mind that your primary goal is to hike on a safe basis. If you’re tired, if your partner is injured, or if the weather is bad, you should abandon the plan and turn back.
Focusing on your goals is not a bad thing. But if you’re too persistent and ignore the actual situation, you’re not only unable to get a comfortable trip, but also increase the risk of injury. Lower your expectations and you’ll be more likely to feel satisfied.
You need to be flexible about your difficulties. Look at the obstacles on your trip in a different way, and see them as opportunities for adventure and enjoy the view. Remember, it’s still a great journey even if you don’t arrive at destination. The important thing is the scenery you meet on the way.