Google shows there is no shortage of articles and tips on how to stay safe while enjoying the natural world. Even novice hikers know the basics, bring food, water and tell a friend where you are going. As a previous wilderness therapist, I want to share a few enhancements to the safety checklist that don’t take up time and can bring peace of mind for everyone.
- Bring water AND a water purification option. Bring your own water and bring a purification option. This could be anything from expensive water purifiers, filters, steripens and good ol’ iodine tablets. Just like the water bottles, keep the purification in your bag ready for your next adventure.
Pro Tip: Water is essential and we always loose more moisture than we think when hiking, biking, walking, etc. While we can plan on brining extra water, we need to be thinking of a back-up. On my recent mother’s day solo hike, it was extremely muddy on my trail. It took me significantly more effort to hike the same 5 miles as I was weighed down by the mud. While they will put hair on even my chest, I find easy and light weight iodine tablets are the most accessible and I keep them in all my outdoor gear, so I never forget them.
- Wear the right clothes AND bring accessories. Yes, layers are key. It is widely known that when we move we sweat and when we sweat we will get cold faster when we are no longer moving. Layers and the right layers are key. So are accessories.
Pro Tip: I have found many times that a simple bandana is the best accessory I need. A bandana that has been dipped in the stream, keeps me cool on a hot Colorado day. The bandana is essential if I don’t have a way to carry out all my trash easily. You can never have enough bandanas when you have children who easily get covered in dirt and boogers. Unfortunately, I have also found a bandana has saved me when I was injured beyond what the gauze in my med kit could cover and when I desperately needed a material to start a fire.
- Share your location AND help someone track you if become lost. Telling a friend or family member where you are going is key.
- Write the details down for you point of contact. Not only, “I am going on a hike to Golden Gate Canyon State Park,” but also, “I am taking the Coyote trail loop and parking at the Mountain Lion Trailhead. The loop is 5 miles and if I am not back in 3 hours, call the park ranger office. Their number is ###-###-####.” Include what you are wearing. We tend to not function well when we are worried, so keep it simple for others.
- Keep a roll of aluminum foil in your car. Before every trip tear off a piece and put one shoe print on it, just enough to get the imprint. Write your name and the date on it and stick it on your dash. It will be easier for anyone to track you if you become lost.