Hiking can be a great outdoor vacation or adventure, and usually it is not dangerous. But, you are outside and often find yourself far from civilization, and you could get injured or even worse. With that in mind, it is very beneficial to heed some basic safety tips to keep your hiking adventure a pleasant experience.
First, do not travel alone. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If you are strolling along a well-traveled area, you are probably safe. But, hiking through a thick forested area with canyons and winding trails is a different story. You could easily get lost.
Traveling with someone can help in many ways, especially if your partner has some experience with hiking. You can help each other up steep grades or apply first-aid if needed, though hopefully not. Also, if one hiker is injured, the other can travel back to the trail head to seek help.
Secondly, it is important to know where you are going. You may want to give someone your tentative course before you leave in the event you do get lost. Stay on well-traveled or clearly marked trails, that is unless you are experienced enough to go off the main trails.
No, the marked trails may not be as interesting but getting lost is even less fun. A map, GPS or compass is a necessity for any serious hiking trip. Since not all GPS units function in all areas, get details on your travel destination and determine if your GPS unit will help you in that location.
Third, do not go overboard on the gear you bring but be sure to take some basic gear. Bring either matches or a lighter, but keep in mind that lighters can run out of fuel and matches can get wet. Take your pick! A knife can also be a lifesaver, in the literal sense, especially those with useful gadgets.
A simple first aid kit can also be a lifesaver. Include bandages and gauze, anti-bacterial cream and other standard items. Sunburn and anti-itch reliever and aspirin may also prove to be appreciated items during the hike.
It is, of course, important to have some knowledge of first-aid also. For example, aspirin can at times be harmful. Or, if you do not know the difference between arterial and venous bleeding, bandages and gauze will do you no good.
A flashlight is a necessity, and toilet paper is just a good idea!
Fourth, take some basic provisions to keep you hydrated and your energy level high. Fluids, both water and sport drinks, are obviously essential. A heat stroke can kill someone, but it is preventable. Water weighs about eight pounds per gallon so take what you need, but not less.
Be sure to bring enough food for the entire hike. Depending on what you ring, about one pound daily is average for a male of medium build.
Finally, use common sense. Enjoy your hiking holiday and the beautiful surroundings. But, do not get carried away and tempt Mother Nature!