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As the weather continues to get brighter and warmer, more people are itching to head outdoors and reconnect with nature. Many would argue that the optimal way to do that is by embarking on a hike. There’s nothing quite like going on a long, relaxing hike—you get to breathe in fresh air, take in the stunning surroundings, bask in the peace and quiet, and even work your muscles while you’re at it.
Hiking is generally safe. That doesn’t mean you should head off on your next hike without making adequate preparations beforehand, however. There are problems that can arise that may potentially leave you lost, stranded, or injured. By preparing for the worst-case scenario, you can ensure your safety and the safety of everyone else in your hiking group. Here are some ways to stay safe while hiking.
Pack the Essentials
A form of navigation, bandages and other first aid items, sun protection, a jacket for colder days, a bottle of water, and maybe even a snack. These are the absolute must-have items for every hike. There are also other necessities that tend to be overlooked. Emergency shelter is one of them. If you’re only planning on a short hike, you might wonder why you’d need to bring along a tent. While you don’t need to lug along a heavy four-season tent, you should always bring along some form of shelter in case of an emergency. Other viable options include a space blanket, tarp, or bivy. Illumination is the next. Bringing along a tactical flashlightwhen you’re hiking during the day might seem silly, but you’ll be grateful you remembered it on the off chance that you stray off the beaten path or get lost.
Don’t Underestimate the Weather
Another way to stay safe while hiking is to never underestimate the weather. You checked the forecast not just once, not just twice, but three times. It’s supposed to be a bright and beautiful day! Unfortunately, the weather isn’t always predictable. What was once a warm, sunny day can quickly turn into a torrential downpour. Whether you’re facing a massive storm or a light drizzle, these sudden shifts in weather can make your hiking trip infinitely more dangerous.
Make sure to familiarize yourself with the proper safety protocols for different types of inclement weather. If you get caught in a thunderstorm, for example, you’ll want to avoid high and open areas. It also helps to bring along the right kind of apparel. A poncho will keep you warm and dry in a rainstorm, and hiking boots will ensure you can safely navigate any type of terrain.
Let Someone Else Know Your Plans
Whether you’re hiking solo or with a group of friends, it’s important to let someone who isn’t tagging along know about your plans. This should be a trusted individual, such as a family member or close friend. Let them know where you’re going, the route you’re planning to take, and when you estimate you’ll return from your trip. If you don’t return as planned, they’ll know that something has gone wrong and that you require aid.