Posted by Michael Barber, October 29, 2013 (last updated on November 28, 2018)
The new colors of fall are enticing to those who love hiking. Oranges, browns, and reds fill the skyline from trees inviting us in. While hiking is a great adventure, there are some hiking tips you must follow including carrying an appropriate safety kit.
Related: 4 Tips for Camping Safety
Make sure to dress in layers in fabrics that sway moisture. Pack extra lightweight shirts, pants, and jackets in a backpack in case you get wet. Hats are a good idea to prevent sun or eye burn. Wear hiking footwear that are made for this outdoor exercise. Boots and shoes can be found in many big box and sporting goods stores. Avoid cotton clothing as it won't dry out quickly.
Use the Right Insect Repellant
It's also important to use an insect repellent that includes DEET to keep insects at bay. This can prevent deer ticks from biting and other insects from stinging or biting. If you are bitten by insects and the bite area swells or becomes painful, head to a nearby urgent care center for treatment.
Related: Ouch! How to Identify Your Bug Bite
Watch for Uneven Elements
Downed trees, shrubs, rocks, and boulders may be present on the hiking path. There's no reason to run through the path and instead, take your time, enjoy the scenery, and watch for these trip and fall dangers.
Even a short fall from tripping on a log or rock can cause an ankle or foot sprain or broken fingers. Enthusiastic hikers will be the first to tell you climbing trees can be dangerous and a fall from high above can result in a broken arm, leg, neck, or back. Avoid cliffs and waterfalls. Know the location of the closest urgent care center so emergency medical treatment can be obtained in the event of sprains or broken bones.
Use the Buddy System
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources recommends hiking using the buddy system and never hike alone. We always hear about hikers lost in the woods and those who must spend nights and even days until they are found by rescue search teams. If you attempt to hike alone and fall, trip or lose your way, it could be quite some time until someone finds you.
Learn About Poison Ivy and Oak
Before you head out on your hike, learn what poison ivy and poison oak look like so you can avoid these plants. Make sure your buddies, especially children, know how to spot these plants as well. Some people get severe reactions by coming in contact with these plants and require strong medications such as steroids to get rid of rashes and other symptoms.
Pack a Good Hiking Kit
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends all hikers take a safety/first-aid kit. The best items to include in backpacks are:
- Matches, lighter and candles
- Extra clothing
- Full first aid kit such as ones found in sporting goods stores
- Extra food, canned or non-perishable
- Swiss army knife
- Map and compass
- Mirror and foil to use as a signaling device
- Battery-powered radio
- Sunscreen, insect repellent and sunglasses
- Plenty of drinking water as well as water purification tablets
- Extra prescription glasses or contact lenses
- Maintenance medications you take daily
Hiking is fun for all and the fall is the perfect time for a hiking adventure. Above all, let someone know where the group is headed, and your expected return time in the event the group does get lost.