As people start heading out on summer trips to campgrounds and hiking trails, rescue agencies are also gearing-up as calls for service will undoubtedly-increase as well. Did you know that the vast-majority of problems that people encounter in the great outdoors could be avoided if they planned their trips better? Let’s look at a few common-sense things that we can all do to minimize the chances of running into trouble in the field.
Each trail and campsite has varying levels of difficulty, and it’s important to find a spot that falls within the level of skill, experience and comfort that every member of your group can handle. Know your limits, and the limits of those who will be going with, and you can choose sites that match those requirements.
Make sure that you are bringing gear and supplies that will be appropriate for the conditions that you will encounter. Irrelevant items take up space, make the process of getting set-up more cumbersome, and they will probably not be suitable to have on-hand during an emergency. It’s also important to prepare your vehicle as well, and make sure that it is suitable for the trip you’re taking as well.
Know the Park
It’s important to be familiar with the geography of the park, but it’s also important to be aware of any rules, regulations or permits that may be necessary as well. It’s also important to be aware of any facilities, important trails, fishing and hunting options and other details that can influence where you go. Get a map, check in with appropriate authorities when necessary, and make sure that you follow the rules. These seem like basic things, but you’d be surprised at how many people get into trouble because they didn’t do their research beforehand.
One of the biggest hindrances to a timely rescue is that searchers don’t know where to look. Providing specific information to an emergency contact, as well as an itinerary can be life-saving in a crisis. Many parks also have sign-in forms or ways to contact authorities to let them know where you’ll be as well. It’s also important to come up with some kind of plan that will keep people in your group together and minimize the chances of them getting lost. You should also come up with a plan for what to do if something does go wrong. We can’t emphasize the importance of this enough, and you can dramatically-reduce the chances of being the victim of an accident simply by telling someone where you are and when you will be back.
Think of ways that you can incorporate some back-ups for your gear and supplies in case something breaks or gets lost in the field. Have a couple of fire-starting options available. Bring something to hunt or fish with, and don’t forget to have multiple ways to access, filter or purify water. You can add some redundancy to other areas as well, but most of what you decide will be situation-specific, so make sure that you think about these things before you start packing.
These are just a few examples of some basic things to consider as you plan your next trip. Hopefully they will get you thinking about other things that you can do to protect yourself as well. Feel free to share some additional tips that can help us to get the most enjoyment from our trips into the great outdoors while reducing risk at the same time.