With the kids out of school and the temperatures finally breaking into the 70s and beyond, plenty of families across the U.S. will be heading outdoors for a little fun in the sun. But while some people enjoy competitive sports or just lounging by the pool, millions of people enjoy nothing more than a hike through the wilderness. In fact, as Statista pointed out, nearly 39 million people went hiking in 2015. Still, preparing to hit the trail calls for more than just slipping on a pair of boots, as hiking safely requires a number of precautions.
"When hiking, always be sure to bring along a buddy and a map."
Here are five safety tips the next time you go wandering through Mother Nature:
1. Never go it alone
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, rangers in the state's many wilderness parks spend many man-hours searching for lost hikers. That's why it's so important to always bring a hiking buddy with you, someone with whom you can map the trails and stay on designated routes. It's also important to tell other people where you'll be hiking and for how long. Make sure they also have the name of the park you'll be in and the exact trail as well. If you're directionally challenged, you may want to consider bringing a GPS device, like a smartphone.
2. Pack the right gear
A successful hiking trip doesn't just require two sturdy feet. The University of Kentucky explained that there are several considerations regarding your choice of equipment. For one, you want to wear brigtly colored clothing, which makes locating you that much easier. Your clothing should offer protection from the elements but also some level of ventilation to help cool off. As for shoes, you want something that fits sturdily around the foot and with plenty of traction. Just as important are your socks; you want a pair that's thick enough to regulate moisture.
3. Bring plenty of water
As with any other form of exercise, hiking will require plenty of fluids. Dehydration doesn't take long to set it and can occur with just a couple hours of activity. Not only do you want to make sure you have enough water to bring on the hike, but that you've had plenty to drink beforehand. When hiking, though, you should never bring more water than you might need, as it can weigh you down. As you pack, always keep in mind that a gallon weighs about eight pounds. If you do run out of water, never resort to nearby streams. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention explained that these sources are teeming with harmful bacteria.
No matter how prepared you are, or how much time you take, accidents are bound to happen on the hiking trails. Luckily for residents of the East Coast, you're never too far from a CareWell Urgent Care Center. With doctors on-hand seven days a week, CareWell can treat almost any type of accident, from bug bites and splinters to bone fractures and dislocations.