Going on a Hike?

Fitness
March 15, 2012

If you’re heading out for a hike, take these top 5 safety pointers to heart.

Hiking is a fun way to combine the love of nature and exercise, and almost anyone can do it. There are trails to suit every level hiker, from beginner to extreme expert. Hiking is a lifetime sport that you can enjoy at any age.

If you’re going on a hike, preparation for safety will ensure that you have the best and safest experience possible. The National Park Service recommends some basic tips:

Travel with a buddy. A minimum of one companion will increase the margin of safety. Whether you get turned around and lose your bearings or become fatigued or injured, a hiking pal is a necessity.

Bring the right supplies. Proper footwear and comfortable clothing, preferably layers, are important. Having a small pack with emergency supplies will add to your peace of mind. A mobile phone, insect repellant, perhaps a hiking pole for stability and matches are a few of the safety basics you should take with you on your hike.

Bring water and food. Even if it is cool outside, you need to bring water. The body dehydrates with exercise. It is important to replace fluids to stay in top shape to complete the entire hike comfortably. It is also a good idea to bring snacks. If you are out longer than your stomach can handle, or need an energy boost while on the hike, a snack can really come in handy. Some easy-to-carry hiking friendly snacks are fruit, dried fruit, carrot or celery sticks and even a sandwich — all will be a welcome provision when out on the trails.

Plan a destination. Check out the hiking trail before you go on your hike. Map out your route and destination ahead of time. Understanding your future surroundings and the path you take can arm you with the knowledge for a safe and pleasurable hike.

Be aware. Using common sense on your hike cannot be over-emphasized enough. Wet or damp trails, as well as the rocks or leaves and tree debris, can be surprisingly slippery. Every step should be purposeful. Keep alert for animals and snakes, and stay on the trail. If you’re in an area where bears have been sighted, make noise along the way. Bears will avoid you if they aren’t surprised by your presence. Give moose plenty of distance should you hike in their territory. Yellow jacket nests are in the ground. If you step on one, you could be stung. Make sure you have medication in case of allergy. If you should fall, don’t brace yourself with your hands, but land on your side and roll with the fall.

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