The American Red Cross knows that summer is a great time for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and swimming. Since unexpected things happen, however, the best way to help guarantee a good time for all is to plan ahead carefully and follow common sense safety precautions.
“The weather is colder than it is normally this time of year so it is even more important to be prepared when out hiking in the Northwest especially during the holiday weekend,” said David Shannon, community disaster educator for the American Red Cross. “We’ve already seen some experienced local hikers needing assistance so it is really beneficial if you can take some steps to plan ahead before venturing out.”
Hiking & Camping Safety
If you have any medical conditions, discuss your plans with your health care provider and get approval before starting out.
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 packing 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. And practice your skills in advance.
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 talk with those who do beforehand. Contact the local ranger station for up to date trail information or road conditions. During the spring months it’s not uncommon for roads to get washed out.
Some areas require you to have reservations or certain permits. If an area is closed, there’s a reason, so don’t go there. Find out in advance about any regulations -- there may be rules about campfires or specific guidelines about wildlife.
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 or American Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid (classes will be offered in King County in July and August) before starting out. For First Aid and CPR classes, in King County please call 206.726.3534, or visit our web site at www.seattleredcross.org. In Kitsap County please call the West Sound Service Center at 360.377.3761. For more information on Red Cross Chapters in Washington State please go to www.redcrosswashington.org.
The American Red Cross also has First Aid kits and other products to help prepare for almost any emergency available for purchase online at www.seattleredcross.org.
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.
The American Red Cross is a non-profit, humanitarian agency dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. For more information, visit www.seattleredcross.org.