Hiking is generally not a dangerous activity if you prepare properly. There are times, however, that you’ll be a long way from “civilization” and you could get injured or have something else happen. In order to hike safely, the following safety tips should always be considered.
1. Don’t Hike Alone
This is probably not critical if you’re just going for a leisurely hike in the local park but if you’re going to venture into the forest, a canyon or some other trickier area, you shouldn’t travel alone.
Hiking with a partner can offer many advantages. People in pairs are less likely to become overly anxious when faced with a problem or setback, and they can offer assistance to one another for getting up steep inclines, across streams or any other trouble spot.
If an injury does occur, the partner can hike back to the trailhead to get assistance. And if it becomes necessary, it’s much easier for two people to conserve their body heat than for a single person to do so.
2. Plan Ahead
Make sure you are familiar with the area you’re hiking into. Even if you’ve never hiked there before, you can use maps and guidebooks to “survey” the area before setting out.
It also helps to talk to other hikers who have been there to find out if there are any tricky spots that you should know of ahead of time. The internet is a great place to do some basic research on an area, especially if it’s not close to where you live.
Make sure you take appropriate hiking gear. This includes basics such as a map, compass and water but you should also plan ahead by taking first aid supplies, some basic provisions and proper equipment if you were to be stuck overnight.
It’s always better to prepare for the worst case and not need it than plan for the best and find out you were wrong.
3. Exercise Common Sense
Hiking is great exercise but make sure your common sense gets a bit of a workout too. Don’t get over-confident when on the trail and do things that are risky or foolish.
Make sure you tell someone else where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If nobody knows you’re gone or where you are, they won’t be able to help you if you don’t return when you expected.