The best way for outdoor travelers to keep safe is for them to be adequately prepared before they even embark on their trip. Half of the battle between you and nature is won before you even begin an outdoor trip. However, the unpredictability of nature is the precise reason why we love it. To counter nature’s mood swings and to keep you safe when you are traveling through the outdoors, here is a list of 7 safety tips that will undoubtedly help you have a fruitful trip.
1. Stay in Groups
Sometimes people want to be left alone, I get that because I’ve been there. However, when you are an outdoor traveler and you enjoy immersing yourself in nature, it is not advisable to go at it alone. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that there is someone who will have your back when you go up against nature. Aside from the wonderful feeling of companionship that this gives you, it helps keep you safe and makes your travel experience a lot more efficient.
When you are entering a remote location (as most outdoor travelers love to do) you should be accompanied by at least 3 to 4 people. This makes it easier to deal with emergencies and any unforeseen circumstances that could arise. If you are traveling with a group, and you are suddenly overcome with the urge to venture off and go explore more of the world by yourself, do not do it. Instead, you should grab one more person (better yet two more people) from your group and go off with them. This automatically increases your safety and your chances of survival in the event of life-threatening circumstances.
2. Keep Outsiders Informed
I have always been a proponent of the buddy system and its different variations. There is no rule anywhere that says it should only be limited to grade school. Whenever you are traveling outdoors, make sure that you keep uninvolved parties (preferably more than one person) informed of where you are and where you intend to be. It helps to schedule regular check-in calls so that it becomes a routine. This schedule will also help people create a timeline of where you are and how you are doing. This information could come in handy if anything goes awry. Take a page out of my book of awesome personal experiences, one thing I always make sure to do is to leave my phone number and my travel plans with at least 4 people. Having a routine like this in place can very likely save your life. If something happens to you and you are incapable of contacting anyone, there will be people on the outside (that’s funny because you’re actually outside) looking for you and they will know just where to start.
3. Always Bring Extra
There is no harm in being overly prepared for any situation, but there is a danger of being under prepared. When you embark on an outdoor adventure, make sure that you pack an extra set of everything. That was no exaggeration, you should literally pack an extra set of everything. When making your way through the great outdoors it is important to always be aware of the fact that you have no idea about anything that could happen. At best, you can prepare for certain eventualities, and part of that preparedness involves bring extra items. This could range from extra food to extra blankets. Things can go wrong in the wild. You might rip your blanket or you might lose your food to some bears (better than losing your life), so it always helps to have a spare item around you can make use of.
4. Research Your Location
One of the greatest tips anyone can give you, in regards to being an outdoor traveler, is that you need to adequately research every location that you travel to. This cannot be overstated (some things can, but not this). It is important to conduct thorough research on whichever location you are planning on exploring. The information you gather could be the difference between life and death. When researching a location, make sure that you pay attention to information about the climate as well as the flora (plant life) and fauna (animal life) that may inhabit said location. Immersing yourself in all of this information only serves to make you better prepared. It helps you prepare yourself for whatever wildlife you might encounter, as well as learn about dangerous or helpful plants that you might encounter along the way.
5. Don’t Approach Wild Animals
Now, I am sure we would all love to take the perfect selfie with an alpha wolf or maybe even a hyena, but whatever you do, do not approach wild animals. The selfie opener might be a little far-fetched, but people do approach wild animals even though they know the risks. It is one of the fastest ways to put your life in danger when you are trekking through the outdoors. I would love to take a selfie with a bear (have you seen The Revenant?) but that doesn’t mean that I am going to act upon said urge because it is ill advised.
When you are making your way through the outdoors, it is of the utmost importance that you understand that you are no longer on home turf. The animals are at home, and you are the outsider. When you come across a wild animal, make sure that you make no sudden movements and begin to work your way away from them. Do not go towards them, do not try to pet a lion and, more importantly, do not run (even though this might be your second instinct because let’s be honest, selfie was first), chances are, you will prompt the animal to chase you down. That probably won’t end well.
6. Bring an Emergency Kit
The most experienced travelers know just how important an emergency kit can be. It could very well be the one thing that lets you live to see another day. When you are traveling through the outdoors, you expose yourself to many dangerous natural elements, so it is important to make sure that you are adequately prepared to handle whatever might arise. It could be a little nick or bruise, or it could be a gash across your back (once again have you seen “The Revenant”?). But whatever it is, having an emergency kit handy will most definitely prove helpful to you.
In addition to this, it is important that learn how to properly use the contents of your emergency kit. There is nothing worse than having an emergency kit and not knowing how to properly use its contents. This is the best time to teach yourself what needs to go into your emergency kit as well as becoming familiar with how to administer appropriate first-aid.
7. Be Smart
This tip comes down to knowing what you can do, and what you should do. Do not cross rivers if you do not know the depth. Do not jump of any waterfalls if you do not know about rocks that may be at the base of the falls. Leaving the trail may not be the best idea if you do not have experience with the area or are unaware of what it takes to rediscover the trail. It comes down to your personal experience and the experience of the people around you. I am a firm believer that the best way to learn is by doing, but that requires the oversight of parties that cannot only take care of themselves but can also assist and direct while being independent. If you are the most experienced traveler, be sure to take into account the skills and knowledge of those around you.
When it comes to common sense there are certain things that everyone can do to be safer. If you have driven to your location, be sure that you have your keys attached to your person. Something like a climbing carabiner around a hardy piece of fabric while the keys are still in a pocket or pouch should do the trick. This will allow you your full range of motion and eliminate any worries about keys falling out of pockets, or bags. Remote locations can make it very difficult to find the types of materials needed to get back into a car. However, if you can wedge the door open wide enough to manipulate the door locks; you may be able to, at least, re-enter your vehicle. You do not want to be at the mercy of a locksmith when you are tired and in the open wilderness.
Traveling through the outdoors is one of life’s most fulfilling experiences and we want to make sure that you continue to stay safe when traveling. These safety tips are meant to make your outdoor experience as smooth as possible, but remember being prepared before you leave on your trip is the best safety starting point!
P.S. Seriously do not try to take a selfie with a wild animal, it won’t end well.
Ralph Goodman is a professional locksmith and an expert writer on all things locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.