- Arrive safely
- Be prepared
- Drink plenty of water
- Do activities that fit your ability
- Watch the weather
- More deaths occur driving to and from recreation spots than doing outdoor activities. Wear your seatbelt, don't drive drunk or drowsy, drive defensively, and obey traffic laws. (see our safe driving page)
Before you go:
- Preparation is the key to a fun and safe hike
- Learn about the area you plan to visit before you get there
- Familiarize yourself with the route/trail you will be taking
- Be physically fit for the activity you will be doing and know your limits
- Pay close attention to current weather conditions
- Tell others where you are going and when you will return - remember that cell phones usually do not have a signal in remote areas
On the trail:
- The most common mistake inexperienced outdoor enthusiasts make is to not have enough water with them during summertime activities (see our dehydration & heat illness page)
- Avoiding trips and tumbles on the trail can be as simple as looking often at the ground
- Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting layers (see our clothing list page)
- Pace yourself
- Always plan for bad weather even if the day starts out nice (see our severe weather page)
- Better to have extra stuff and not use it than need it and not have it (see our day pack page for suggested items to bring)
- Learn how to read a map, use a compass, and recognize landmarks
- Teach children to remain where they are and remain calm if they are lost (click here for more information)
- Know what to do if you encounter wildlife (see our wildlife page)
Beat the heat tips:
- Be an Early Bird or a Night Owl
Hike in the early morning or later in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day - usually between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
- Seek Out Shade
Direct sun can make the temperature feel up to 15 degrees hotter! Hike trails mostly through the trees.
- Let Your Skin & Feet Breathe
Sweat can evaporate more easily from bare skin and loose fitting clothes but remember to wear plenty of sunscreen, even under your shirt.
For warm-weather hikes, you need lightweight, ventilated shoes and socks that wick away sweat (not 100% cotton). Mesh is cooler than leather and dries faster when your feet sweat - or try a walking sandal. Between hikes, allow shoes to to dry completely to avoid fungi and blisters.
- Cover Your Head
Wear a breathable hat with a wide, full-circle brim - visors only protect your face.
- Just Add Water
Wet your shirt and hat and you'll have on-the-spot air-conditioning!
- Ice Your Thirst
Freeze a half-full water bottle and fill it just before your hike.
- Listen to Your Body
Your body will tell you when you can push yourself, and when it's time to coast. If you develop a headache or become dizzy or weak, stop and head for a cool place, drink plenty of cool fluids, and rest.
Where to hike?
Additional hiking safety & first aid links:
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