It is a good idea to review or refresh your hiking safety knowledge, if you’re planning a trip into the backcountry or wilderness in the near future. Here are some quick observations to make before heading out on a trek. Of course, there is no such thing as full safety in life; nonetheless, there are always techniques to manage risk as effectively as possible.
To choose the best course of action, ask yourself a series of questions. Hiking safety planning necessitates a thorough examination of the entire trek.
What are you talking about? – Will your trekking group be carrying anything?
What is the reason behind this? – Ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page.
What’s the location? – Research the path you intend to trek When? – Pick the optimum time of year, day, and hour to begin.
Who is it, exactly? – Consider who you’ll be hiking with.
Who are the participants of the hike?
To better understand the group’s strengths and shortcomings, have everyone discuss their past hiking experiences and capabilities. If you haven’t met before, it’s a good idea to meet together throughout the planning phase and get to know one other socially. Consider the individuals who will be participating in the trek as a good place to start with hiking safety.
Some may be utter novices, which is typically not an issue; make sure they are not overburdened with responsibilities they are not prepared to handle. Because everyone needs to start somewhere, it’s normal if group members have varying degrees of competence and capabilities. However, if certain individuals are hesitant to actually carry their weight or participate as much as others, it may result in dissatisfaction and uncomfortable treks.
It is not fair to the other members of the group if you have not made an attempt to be physically fit. Nobody can be forced to do anything they don’t want to do. Make sure you’re in excellent enough physical form for the hike you’ve planned. Many hiking groups function by agreement, so a leader isn’t necessarily necessary, though those with greater experience may naturally provide more advice.
Some hiking tour organizations, I’m aware of, conduct fitness assessments before allowing individuals to participate in longer hikes. If they are aware of any difficulties and consent to the risk, that is OK, but they should be informed before beginning. Also, disclose any acute or chronic injuries that may affect the climb. A recurrence may not only be uncomfortable for you, but it may also put others at risk.
VIPS Who will not be attending your event
These are the persons to whom you will reveal your whole itinerary before departing. They are the ones who will alert the appropriate authorities if your party does not arrive on time. These are the persons that will be contacted first if there are any issues or modifications. There are also a few key members who will not be able to attend the trip.
If they don’t know each other, these persons will at the very least have each other’s contact phone numbers in case they need to discuss any hiking safety decisions. These are mature VIPs who are willing to take on this significant duty. There should be at least two contacts, but there should not be so many that it causes confusion.
What are the plans for the group’s hike?
With reference to the trip’s complexity, everyone in the party should have some map-reading abilities or be in the process of learning. Collect maps and create a topographical map of your chosen trip. The party may get an excellent overview of the journey using Google Earth and Google Maps. Everyone in the party should be aware of the trekking path you’ll be taking — you should all be on the same page, so to speak.
If you’re trekking along well-worn pathways, keep an eye out for cottages and camping places. Determine which stages of the journey will take longer and demand more energy than others, and prepare appropriately. If necessary, decide on bailout spots so that the plan includes safety features.
Discuss who has alternative sources of direction, such as Global Positioning Systems, in addition to distributing maps among all members of the group (GPS). However, don’t put your whole trust in them; they might break, get misplaced, fall into rivers, or just cease working. These have been around for a long time and maybe a lot of fun to use on any vacation.
In a remote location, a lost hiker with a rucksack consults a map for guidance.
If an issue prevents you from following the route, consider retracing your steps or figuring out how to get around the obstacle so you can get back on track without becoming lost. Staying on the path is also a smart ecological decision since it ensures that you cause the least amount of environmental harm possible. Unless you face an unexpected obstacle, always stay on the track. Bush bashing through foliage is not a good idea for navigation, hiker safety, or the ecology.
For example, if harsh weather damages the route in one place, it might indicate that even more harm is on the way. Always err on the side of caution, as there’s a good probability that if you can’t keep going, there’s a bigger problem to deal with.
When does the group plan to travel?
About the weather
When it comes to hiker safety, “The Weather” is far from trivial; it is crucial since your and your group’s life may depend on making the right judgments. However, the weather is a factor that comes up in small daily conversations when deciding when the best time to go hiking is.
That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t go out if there’s a chance of a few showers, but if there’s any hint of heavy or extreme weather, you should cancel or postpone your trek. The lack of knowledge about the weather is no longer an excuse, thanks to the ubiquitous internet. Always examine the current and long-term weather forecasts.
Bad weather is one of the most common reasons for a trek to go horribly wrong and become deadly. This can range from the fog that causes you to lose your bearings, to floods that cause rivers to rise, landslides that ruin the route, or snow and cold temperatures that put group members at risk of hypothermia.
The trail will be closed for a reason if it is closed. Because of the warmer temperature, most routes are more accessible in the summer, though this may not always be the case if compacted snow makes trekking easier. Some routes are best experienced at specific seasons of the year, so if you are unfamiliar with the region, seek local guidance.
AGREE TO CONTINUE TO WORK TOGETHER
If things change, so be it; at the very least, you’ll all be working for the same goals. Decide on the departure date and time, the daily trekking time, the projected time en route, and the number of days it should take – organize the entire journey.
Some mountain paths require you to get up in the middle of the night to complete the journey before the snow softens due to the heat. Also, before you depart, talk over the daily trail schedule with your hiking mates and come up with a strategy. Some folks are early risers who are ready to pack up and hit the route by 6 a.m., while others are hesitant to leave their sleeping bags. When hiking in desert regions where you relax throughout the day, it may be necessary to start walking early to accomplish the daily distances.
Learn what animals are most likely to be in the region at different times of the year and when they are most likely to create problems. Seasonal threats to animals are frequently linked to the seasons. In the spring and early summer, snakes are more active. Male animals, such as deer and wild goats (yeah, wild goats – literally), maybe more violent during their mating season. Bears may be more violent after winter hibernation if they are hungry or have small pups with them.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE HIKE FOR THE GROUP?
However, we may each have our own reasons for taking the same path. While this may not appear to be an important consideration when it comes to hiker safety, it is comforting to know that “everyone is on the same page.” Even if you are not buddies, try to trek in groups of like-minded people. It may seem self-evident that no one would consider or debate the proposal if they did not wish to participate.
Consider a situation in which one individual wants to stop all the time to shoot dung beetles crossing the walkway while the rest of the group is yelling and screaming in disgust. They could even want to abandon him, which is never a smart decision. Others may become weary as a result of attempting to keep up with the first runner. The opposite extreme is “Harry Hare,” who is usually racing ahead to the lunch stop, despite the fact that going too far ahead is never a good idea. Inquire with yourself and others about whether the trek will be a leisurely walk or a timed and distanced competition.
WHAT WILL EACH MEMBER OF THE GROUP BRING?
What you bring will be influenced by how long you intend to stay on the trail. For example, one individual may have a gas canister burner while another has an alcohol stove, both of which provide alternate cooking options. It’s a good idea to know what equipment each individual has so that all alternatives are covered and alternate cooking methods may be discussed. This is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of hiking safety.
While certain supplies can be shared to decrease the burden in a group, safety goods such as basic First Aid Kits and the like should be carried by each participant. Instead of simmering, canister gas burners are preferable for quick boiling and rehydration of meals. Find out what emergency supplies each person has on hand.
Make a list of what you require and what the group might be able to give. There are a few items that should be carried at all times:
Clothing that is appropriate for the worst possible weather conditions during the season.
Lights — head torch, flashlight, ideally with LED bulbs for long life.
Tents, tarps, sleeping bags, and insulating matting.
Food rations — daily rations for everyone, emergency rations, and healthy snacks.
2L emergency ration of water in an unbreakable water bottle.
Waterproof matches, lighters, and firelighters are among the options for starting a fire.
Navigational aids include maps, a magnetic compass, a digital compass, GPS, and an altimeter.
Heat blankets, signal devices, whistles, locating beacons, and flares are all examples of emergency equipment.
Sharp knife, multi-tool, cable ties, duct tape, rope or rope, fish hook and line, and aluminum foil.
Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat with a shady brim, and clothes are all good ways to protect yourself from the sun.
First-aid supplies — enough to cope with any minor injuries that may arise, as well as certain products that may be improved.
Bottle of blue water.
The following are some suggestions for a basic personal first aid kit:
Bandage made of crepe 3-4” Sterile Gauze Dressings — a variety of nonstick gauze dressings
Repellent for insects
Lip balm and sunscreen
Tablets with antihistamines
Sling with a triangular bandage
Dressings in strips
Ibruprofen or paracetamol for pain relief
strip safety pins for notebooks and pencils
Disposable CPR face shield Fabric dressing
Gloves that can be discarded
a pair of scissors
You or your company will have to decide how much you can carry securely and how much you can leave behind securely. Each of the points listed above may be addressed in depth.
WHERE AM I GOING TO WEAR MY DRESS?
For warmth and comfort, I choose a blend of natural goods like silk or merino wool, as well as synthetics for quick drying and waterproofing. While you don’t need the most costly and attractive hiking gear, some fibers are better than others. Make sure you’ve dressed appropriately for the most likely harsh weather of the hiking season.
Temperature extremes may be fatal; too hot causes dehydration and high body temperatures, resulting in heat exhaustion, while too cold causes hypothermia. Layers of clothing are the key to adaptability – I often start with many layers that I can take off as the temperature rises and then put back on when the temperature drops. Layers trap heat more effectively and help you to dry off while sweating. Thus 3-4 light layers are preferable to simply two bulky ones. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate headwear, either to keep you warm or to keep the sun off your face. See our post on the finest hiking clothing for everyday usage to figure out what to wear.
The issue is that when we are going to undertake something with which we are unfamiliar, we are unaware of the dangers and how to prepare to reduce them. Risk management is something we learn from experience. Every day, we take chances in everything we do, including lying in bed. We limit danger without thinking about it by turning on the light at night, so we don’t run into something or by looking both ways before crossing the road.
Discuss potential “what if…” scenarios with your group so that nothing comes as a surprise. For example, “What if one of us is hurt and can’t walk…?” “What if the fog rolls in…?” “What if we’re becoming a little too chilled…?” “What happens if we misplace a water bottle…?”When it comes to hiking, learn from the experiences of others until you feel secure in your own abilities. Make a list of the more frequent dangers you could face and be prepared to deal with them.
This planning can help you gain confidence in your ability to deal with difficult situations. Hopefully, none of these scenarios will occur, but the fact that you’ve spoken about them and decided on a strategy will make you more attentive. If you ever find yourself in an emergency, remember the abbreviation STARR:
STOP – take a breath, sit down, and remain calm.
THINK – be aware of what is going on around you and what is truly occurring, and come up with new ideas.
ASSESS – weigh the pros and disadvantages of various solutions.
RESPOND – take action based on the best reaction
REMEMBER: water, warmth, shelter, and the will to live are all necessities.
There’s no purpose in having only one or two group members know First Aid, especially if they’re the ones who are hurt, leaving no one else sure what to do. This understanding is even more vital in the middle of nowhere to ensure that what isn’t life-threatening stays that way. Ascertain that everyone in the group has completed a First Aid/Emergency First Responder training. These take a few hours of your time to complete, but they may actually save your life or the life of someone else no matter where you are.
Emergency Locator Beacons are available for lease from government offices in some nations, such as New Zealand. If you are in grave danger (and not simply out of coffee), you may activate the beacon, which will notify regional Search and Rescue Teams, who will know where you are and rush to your aid. Everyone should know how to utilize any emergency equipment they plan to bring, such as a GPS, an emergency locating beacon, warming blankets, and how to rapidly erect a tent or tarp for shelter.
If you do decide to take one, make sure it’s in a sturdy, watertight container. Mobile phones should not be relied upon. They may break, run out of battery, or be out of signal range, or any above combination. That is not to imply that you should not take them, but you should not rely on them.
Following these guidelines will not ensure your safety, but it will undoubtedly assist you. It will also help you have faith in your hiking companions and keep you enjoying your treks.
Hiking should be planned with safety in mind so that you and your hiking companions may enjoy the fresh air.