Hiking Safety -How To Stay Safe During Hiking
Hiking safety is very important so as to ensure safety during the journey. Hiking is a fun and exciting pastime for many of us. You get to get a great workout while enjoying spectacular sites and being at one with nature. Some trails can even take you across state lines. Many people are aware that hiking can require strict physical demands. If you are walking for hours with a heavy backpack up a rugged trail, you will use almost every muscle in your body. While hiking can be a great way to lose weight, build muscle and see nature, there are many hikers who make common mistakes which can make even the simplest day trips turn hazardous.
Prior to your hike
Before you embark on your hiking trek, it is important to be fully prepared. You should start with the basics and make sure you have hiking boots and hiking apparel that is appropriate. The better the hiking boot is that you have, the easier your hike will be. It is unsafe to attempt hiking in a tennis shoe or an athletic sneaker. You need to purchase boots that are specifically designed for hiking on trails. These specially created boots will help you remain stable on rugged terrain and keep your ankles well support to avoid rolling. Waterproof boots will help keep wetness from leaking onto your foot while wicking away the moisture your foot will cause by sweating. Properly fitting boots will ensure that you will not end up with blisters and tired legs.
You also want to make sure that you take with your proper clothing. You should avoid cotton as it will cling to your skin instead of wicking away moisture. You should also be prepared with layers. It is better to be too warm and able to remove items of clothing, than too cold and not have enough to put on. Most hiking professionals suggest wearing clothing that is brightly colored as opposed to camouflage. This will help rescue personnel locate you should something happen. It is also recommended that you carry a raincoat in your backpack to protect you from unexpected weather changes.
You should also make sure that you have with you a compass, a map, water, food, and a lighter. You want to make sure that you familiarize yourself with where you will be hiking. A common mistake among hikers is becoming lost. Make sure that your friends and family are aware of your excursion in case something arises.
Your backpack is also an essential item to have during a hike. You should select a backpack that has an internal brace, as well as a belt that ties around the waist. This will help distribute the weight and allow your pelvis to carry some of the load, as opposed to just your legs and back. The backpack should also have compression straps that provide cushioning. The more uncomfortable your backpack is, the rougher the trek will end up. If you are planning a simple day trip you will not need a backpack larger that a youth’s school bookbag. If you are planning longer hikes or weekend trips you will need a much larger bag.
During your hike
While you are hiking you should remain on well-marked trails. Trails are usually rated on a scale of one to five with one being the easiest with flat and well maintained trails and five involving rock climbing. You should make sure that you have a whistle with you in case you veer too far off course. You cannot depend on your cell phone properly working, especially if you are deep in the woods or high in the mountains.
A common mistake of hikers is distraction. You hike to see the sites and the beauty nature offers, but hikers need to stay alert of their surroundings. Your body tends to follow where your gaze is which can be dangerous. You should allow yourself time to fully stop and take a rest and enjoy the sites. It is better than looking around and making a misstep and falling down the mountain.
Long hikes can often lead to fatigue, dehydration or injury. You want to make sure that you are taking in large amounts of fluids while hiking, especially during warmer seasons so you do not suffer from dehydration or a heat stroke.
You may want to consider purchasing some hiking poles. Many experienced and advanced hikers may feel that these poles are designed for weaker hikers, but that is not true. Most hiking professionals and tour guides use and suggest the use of hiking poles. They will assist with redistributing the weight of the backpack when you are proceeding up inclines. They will also help stabilize your arms, hips, back, ankles and neck when moving downward.
You should also make sure that you have sunscreen, a head covering, such as a baseball cap and bug repellant with you. The sunscreen will protect you from the damaging rays while the baseball cap will protect you from the sun and ticks. There are numerous diseases that can be spread through an insect bite. You need to be prepared for this, as well.
Hiking with your family
Hiking is often recommended as a fun family activity. You can spend time connecting with your children and teaching them to truly appreciate nature. It is important to remember that children do not have the same physical abilities of adults and will usually tire out or become dehydrated more quickly. You should also make sure that children stay close to parents as some trails may become difficult or have wild animals nearby. It is also a great recommendation that your child have their own whistle in case they begin to lag or disappear in the wrong direction. They should know if they are unable to see you, that you can follow the sound of the whistle.
When the hike is completed
Regardless of your physical ability, hiking can be draining for anyone. You want to make sure any injuries you experienced are seen by medical professionals. If you are sore and have achy muscles it is a great idea to do a heat and ice therapy or receive a massage.