Summertime is a great time for getting outside. Camping, hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, and more are all healthy ways to pass the time. As beautiful and relaxing as Mother Nature can be, though, she can also be dangerous. To ensure that your summer is as safe as it is fun, always follow these safety tips when enjoying the great outdoors:
– Never hike or camp alone. It’s not a good idea to be by yourself if an emergency strikes. Always leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person back home. Include the model, year, and license plate number of your car, and when you plan to return.
– Plan ahead. Develop an emergency plan before you start your trip. Go over the plan frequently to ensure that everyone knows what to do if they become lost or injured. Give every member of your group a whistle, and tell them to “stop and blow” if they become lost.
– Be realistic. It’s nice to set goals, and it certainly feels good to hike a certain number of miles in a day, or summit that mountain you’ve been dreaming about, but be sure to pace yourself and be realistic about your physical condition. Pushing yourself, or your companions, too hard is a recipe of disaster.
– Be aware. Pay attention to your surroundings. Keep an eye on your footing on trails, watch for swarms of insects, wild animals, poisonous plants, changing weather, and other signs of potential danger.
– Bring extra clothing. The weather can change in an instant, particularly in the mountains. Wear layers, and pack a change of clothes if possible. Make sure your base layer is made from a wicking material, such as wool or polyester, to prevent becoming chilled.
– Learn first aid. Be able to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, and dehydration, and know how to treat them. Pack a first aid kit. Make sure it includes antiseptics for cuts and scrapes, tweezers, insect repellent, bug spray, a snake bite kit, pain relievers, sunscreen, moleskin for blisters, gauze dressings, tape, scissors, insect repellent, and anti-itch cream.
– Make camp at least two hours before dark. Traveling after darkness can result in accidents and injuries. It’s best to be completely settled in before night falls.
– Stay sober. While drinking is a popular pastime, it’s important to keep your wits about you in case of an emergency. If you do drink, take it easy.
– Drink plenty of water. Though water is heavy to carry, dehydration can come on quickly. Don’t drink directly from ponds or streams. Natural water sources often contain parasites and microorganisms that can make you sick. Pack your water in, or bring a water purification bottle or tablets to treat stream water.
– Always stay on marked trails when hiking.
– Know how to repair your gear — bicycle tires, backpacks, tents, etc. — and keep the necessary tools handy.
– Wear sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen no matter the season. The sun can be dangerous year-round.
– Always carry a map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter, personal shelter or rain poncho, and high energy food source.
– Build fires only in approved fire rings, or pack a camp stove. Fires started outside of approved fire rings can cause forest fires, and may be illegal in many areas. It’s better to use a camp stove if you’re not sure.
– Seal up your food. Exposed food, garbage, coolers, cooking equipment or utensils can attract bears and other wildlife. Seal uneaten food in an airtight container, bear box, or vehicle, and/or hang it from a high tree branch when camping out.