Everything You Need To Know To Stay Safe While Hiking
There’s plenty of reasons to love the outdoors. Spending time taking in the beauty of nature clears your head, gives your body exercise, and offers you an opportunity to explore new places and spend time with friends. However, there are, of course, risks attached to outdoor activities, including hiking. If you’re out on a hike and find yourself in an emergency, you’ll be much better off if you’ve packed the resources you need to take care of yourself.
Hiking emergencies that you might run into include getting lost without a way back to transportation, getting injured, or being stuck on a hike during severe weather or a natural disaster. In any of these circumstances, having the right tools and resources handy can play a pivotal role in getting you safely back to civilization. Keep reading to learn the tools you need to keep handy to survive a hiking emergency!
1. Going Hiking? Pack Emergency Food And Water
If you end up stranded in the woods while on your hike due to inclement weather, getting lost, or other factors, you don’t want to run out of food and water. Keeping extras of these precious resources stocked in your bag can be the difference between life and death in dire circumstances.
Aim to stock your bag with non-perishable sources of food that are high in calories like energy bars and trail mix. In addition, when you’re choosing your mode of carrying emergency water, pouches are definitely the best choice. More compact than water bottles and with a longer shelf life, water pouches can fit in your bag easily and keep you from dehydration if you end up in the woods longer than you’d planned.
2. Pack Light Sources (Besides Your Phone)
If you’re on a long hike, especially one where you’re camping overnight, you’ll need to keep a source of light handy besides your phone. Even if you have a rechargeable external battery with you to keep your phone alive and plan on using its flashlight, you’re better off with something that doesn’t need to be plugged in to give you light.
If you end up stuck in the woods in the dark, you’ll need an emergency light source to illuminate your way back to safety. Glow sticks are a great option for emergency hiking lights, lasting hours without requiring the use of batteries. You can also bring a battery-powered flashlight in your pack, but make sure to bring spare batteries as well in case you need them.
3. Bring First Aid Supplies
There are plenty of ways to get scraped up in the woods, whether you trip over a rock or bump up into a brambly bush or something else. However, there are also opportunities to get more seriously injured while on a hike, and you want to be as prepared as possible in case the worst happens. One of the best ways to be ready to address injuries is to carry a first aid kit in your hiking bag.
While the tools in a first aid kit can’t fix every injury, they can make a lifesaving difference in keeping an injured person safe until medical help can be reached. If you’re on a hike and someone gets injured, make sure you have the tools and knowledge to address the injury as effectively as possible. Even if you’re just making a temporary fix until you can get help, your knowledge of first aid and the first aid kit you carry are indispensable in hiking emergencies.
4. Know The Way Back
If you find yourself lost in the woods while on a hike, it can be disorienting and overwhelming. One of the best ways to stay prepared in case you lose your way on a hike is to study your route before you embark on your journey. Getting lost and heading in the wrong direction can leave you too far from transportation and in need of a rescue. Do your homework before any hike you take and make sure you know how to get back to your transportation if you end up lost.
5. Spotted A Bear? Here’s What To Do
You’re liable to see all kinds of fascinating wildlife while on your hike – that’s one of the best parts of spending time out in nature. However, in some parts of the country, there’s a chance that you’ll encounter a bear somewhere along your journey. Coming across a bear while you’re hiking can be a scary and overwhelming experience, but there are steps you can take to get out of the situation as wisely as possible.
If you see a bear while hiking and it doesn’t notice you, keep moving without making eye contact or drawing attention to yourself. In many circumstances, bears will not notice you as you pass by, minding their own business as you mind yours. If you do catch a bear’s attention, though, experts recommend speaking softly to the bear to make it known that you’re a human and not prey. Bears are typically not on the offensive, but remember that you’re on their turf, and they’re probably curious about you and what you’re doing – and the food in your pack.
After you’ve made it clear to the bear that you’re neither threat nor prey, try to walk away, even if it means going back the way you came. If you can’t leave without provoking the bear, make sure the bear has a way to leave. Keep talking quietly to the bear, trying while doing so to make yourself as big-looking and imposing as possible.
6. Carry Emergency Sources Of Warmth
If you end up stuck in the woods longer than you’d originally planned, you’ll need protection from the elements. In addition to packing something to wear if the weather gets cold, it’s wise to bring an emergency blanket and hand warmers with you as well. An emergency blanket is made of insulating foil and can help your body retain heat, keeping you warm if you end up stuck in the woods overnight due to an emergency. Hand warmers are another must-have resource, helping you keep warm if you’re exposed to the elements for long periods of time in the woods.
7. Long Hike? Don’t Go Alone
One of the best ways to avoid being stuck in a hiking crisis is taking a buddy with you for your adventure. Hiking in groups or with at least one other person is generally safer than hiking alone, especially when it comes to longer, riskier hikes. If someone gets injured, another member of the group can help. If the group runs across a bear or other potentially threatening animal, you’ve got extra protection. There’s safety in numbers in many situations, and hiking is no exception.
8. Know What Not To Eat
An important skill to keep you safe while hiking is the ability to identify edible and non-edible plants. If you end up stranded in the woods due to inclement weather, a natural disaster, or other dire circumstances, you may have to forage for food. Knowledge of which plants that grow in your area are edible can help keep you from going hungry. In addition, this knowledge can save you from getting sick or worse due to eating the wrong foraged food.
If you have additional questions, send them our way!