Hiking and camping provide exercise
and interest for people of any age. Just getting out and walking
around is a wonderful way to see nature. Since unexpected things
happen, however, the best way to help guarantee a good time for
all is to plan ahead carefully and follow commonsense safety
- If you have any medical conditions, discuss your plans with
your health care provider and get approval before departing.
- Review the equipment, supplies, and skills that you'll need.
Consider what emergencies could arise and how you would deal
with those situations. What if you got lost, or were confronted
unexpectedly by an animal? What if someone became ill or injured?
What kind of weather might you encounter? Add to your hiking
checklist the supplies you would need to deal with these situations.
- Make sure you have the skills you need for your camping or
hiking adventure. You may need to know how to read a compass,
erect a temporary shelter, or give first aid. Practice your skills
- If your trip will be strenuous, get into good physical condition
before setting out. If you plan to climb or travel to high altitudes,
make plans for proper acclimatization to the altitude.
- It's safest to hike or camp with at least one companion.
If you'll be entering a remote area, your group should have a
minimum of four people; this way, if one is hurt, another can
stay with the victim while two go for help. If you'll be going
into an area that is unfamiliar to you, take along someone who
knows the area or at least speak with those who do before you
- Some areas require you to have reservations or certain permits.
If an area is closed, do not go there. Find out in advance about
any regulations--there may be rules about campfires or guidelines
- Pack emergency signaling devices, and know ahead of time
the location of the nearest telephone or ranger station in case
an emergency does occur on your trip.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person.
Include such details as the make, year, and license plate of
your car, the equipment you're bringing, the weather you've anticipated,
and when you plan to return.
Get trained in American Red Cross first aid before starting
out. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for a Community
First Aid and Safety course or When Help Is Delayed course.
What to Bring: A Hiking Checklist.
What you take will depend on where you are going and how long
you plan to be away, but any backpack should include the following:
- Clothing (always bring something warm, extra socks, and rain
- First aid kit
- Food (bring extra)
- Foil (to use as a cup or signaling device)
- Insect repellent
- Nylon filament
- Pocket knife
- Pocket mirror (to use as a signaling device)
- Prescription glasses (an extra pair)
- Prescription medications for ongoing medical conditions
- Radio with batteries
- Space blanket or a piece of plastic (to use for warmth or
- Trash bag (makes an adequate poncho)
- Waterproof matches or matches in a waterproof tin
- Water purification tablets
- Whistle (to scare off animals or to use as a signaling device)
Always allow for bad weather and for the possibility that
you may be forced to spend a night outdoors unexpectedly.
It's a good idea to assemble a separate "survival pack"
for each hiker to have at all times. In a small waterproof container,
place a pocket knife, compass, whistle, space blanket, nylon
filament, water purification tablets, matches, and candle. With
these items, the chances of being able to survive in the wild
are greatly improved.