The thrill of the open trail brings many people to the wilderness. But for some, this excitement can also bring danger. Safety and common sense should be practiced at all times. The following safety rules will help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip:
Always tell someone where you’re going, which trail you plan to use, and when you plan to return. Let them know if your plans change.
Always carry a map of the area, the proper equipment for the conditions, and extra food, clothing, and matches.
Never hike alone.
Always be prepared for sudden weather changes. Watch the weather closely and obtain accurate forecasts before starting your trip.
Always carry a first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, matches in a waterproof container, whistle to signal for help, fire starter sticks (to start fires), knife or machete, and plastic garbage sacks to protect your equipment from the elements.
Clothing should be light in color and loose fitting, long sleeved shirts, and long pants to prevent sunburn and insect bites. A hat is recommended.
Always use established campsites with a good water supply nearby.
Carry out all trash and bury human waste six to eight inches deep at least 100 feet away from any water sources.
Use a stove for cooking, not open fires. Be sure the area is clear of flammable vegetation and check your fire before leaving it unattended.
If you discover an injured person on the trail:
Do not move the injured person unless there is immediate danger.
Leave a note at the site indicating where you are going and when they can expect to be rescued. Use your whistle to signal for help if they cannot yell.
Stay with the injured person unless you feel there is an immediate danger, in which case go for help while leaving word of your plans (this should include who you are going to see, the trail you will take, and any landmarks along the way).
Never leave someone with an injured party. Stay together. If there is more than one person in your group, send one for help while others stay with the injured person. Call 911 if you have cell phone service. If not, call the ranger’s station or local sheriff.
Never leave someone with an injured party without telling them where you are going, which trail you plan to use, and when they can expect to be rescued. 6-8 inches deep at least 100 feet away from any water sources.
Use your whistle to signal for help if they cannot yell. Stay with the injured person unless you feel there is an immediate danger, in which case go for help while leaving word of your plans.
If you or someone in your group gets lost:
Stay calm and think clearly. Find a safe place and stay there until help arrives. If the person is missing from your camping area, then search the immediate area calling out his name at regular intervals. If you hear a response, follow the voice to its source. Follow your footprints back to your campsite or shelter if necessary.
Stay in one place and do not wander about the wilderness trying to find your camp site or trails. Damage plant life while looking for a trail just by stepping on the plants. If there is more than one person in your party, stay together so you can try to find help as a group.
Because the average rescue time is two days, knowing how to survive in the wilderness can be critical. Following these rules and learning basic survival techniques before you venture out will help ensure your safety on the trail.