Hiking can be so much fun, but you shouldn't just run out the door and hit the trails without some forethought. Planning ahead increases the enjoyment you experience from hiking and other outdoor activities by helping you avoid injury. Here are eight things to consider before you hit the great outdoors.
8 easy hiking safety tips
- What to wear: Look for sturdy hiking shoes, and avoid blisters by breaking them in before going on a long hike. Cover your skin with long sleeves and long pants if you are taking on rough terrain in your hike, and don't forget a hat to keep sun and sweat out of your eyes.
- Protect your skin: Slather a layer of sweat-proof sunblock on exposed skin and take some good insect repellent to keep stinging insects away. Nothing ruins a great day and special memories like a bad sunburn or being covered in mosquito bites.
- Take the right gear: Keep it light when preparing for your hike. Take a lightweight backpack, and a light walking stick if you'll be climbing hills. Also, remember to choose lightweight items to put in your backpack and pockets.
- Don't skip the emergency supplies: While you should keep your backpack as light as possible, you also don't want to end up out in the woods without the necessities. Make room for a compass, pepper spray, a pocket knife, a flash light, first aid supplies, your cell phone, a whistle, toilet paper and some rope.
- Nourish yourself: Pack plenty of water and some high protein snacks for your hiking trip. The water is kind of heavy at first, but it will get lighter as you drink it throughout the day.
- Prepare your muscles: Start working out as far ahead as possible to increase your strength, and then properly warm up your muscles with some aerobic exercises and stretches right before you hit the trails.
- Watch for hazards: Keep your eyes open when hiking. Enjoy the scenery, but don't forget to watch where you are putting your feet. It's easy to trip over tree roots and rocks, or slip off of a wet boardwalk, or even step in an insect's nest, especially if the ground is covered with dry leaves or plant life.
- Wildlife you encounter: If you come across a wild animal or really cool insect when hiking, resist the urge to touch it, no matter how cute it is. Take a picture if you want to preserve the memory or show your friends, but give wildlife its space.
Use these tips to make sure you're prepared for your hike. And be sure to check with your Atlanta general practitioner that you're physically up for the challenge.