Hiking Accidents and Best Practice

28/02/2012

Although hiking is a common and popular activity both at home and abroad, it can unfortunately lead to serious accidents and death. There are many unfortunate news stories, and some quite recent of such incidents. By following certain guidelines, the risk is minimised.

Ensure you are physically fit enough for the hike you have planned. If there are any existing injuries or conditions that would be exacerbated by the field conditions of your hike, consider if you are able to deal with any issues that might occur out on your hike, and whether you can cope with the hike. If not, readjust your plans to an easier hike or rearrange for another time.

Check the weather forecast for the day and any subsequent days of your hikes and plan accordingly. If heavy rain is forecast, it may present an en route hazard and may be easier to slip and fall on rocks and cause injury.

Plan your hike, with a map, a compass and a GPS if possible and make sure someone else has a copy of the map and your GPS coordinates in case you do get lost or unable to get back to your starting point. Ensure that if something unexpected does happen, that someone knows your route and can easily send help if need be.

Prepare fully, and most importantly, make sure you have enough food and water for yourself. It is better to have a heavier pack and go at a slightly slower pace than to not have enough food and water and become lethargic and dehydrated, and then get stranded. Additionally make sure you have extra water during the summer and warmer weather.

Always carry extra clothing and spare socks, in case you get wet, as well as plastic bags to keep your damp gear in. A light waterproof jacket or rain poncho is also ideal to keep in your pack, regardless of the weather. A small first aid kit should always be in your pack, including antihistamines for any allergic reactions to insect bites or allergic reactions to flora, plasters, bandages and antiseptic cream.

As well as having a flashlight, you should consider a head lamp to keep your hands free as well as taking spare batteries or snap lights. You can now purchase mini survival kits which will have emergency essentials including a whistle, penknife and emergency blanket amongst other useful items.

Dress appropriately for your hike, and wear suitable hiking boots and socks. Avoid cotton socks as they dry slowly and may cause blisters. Look for base layers and walking socks which are made from wool and silk that are highly breathable and quick drying and wear an appropriate unscented sun cream, as scented products can attract bugs, and insect repellent.