Hiking is a very rewarding thing to do and can make great memories for life, but nature can be especially cruel again if you are not prepared for the challenges associated with it and are caught off guard when danger strikes. For hiking, there are always details and dangers that you should be aware of that are unique to the outdoor sport of hiking. So do your research well before you go, plan carefully, buy a good pair of hiking shoes suitable for the conditions of your trip, and be as prepared as possible for everything. What are the common hazards of hiking? How to deal with them?
A common misconception is that wilderness hiking is only unsafe because of various natural disasters. In fact, your worst enemy is actually your own poor judgment. Injuries and fatalities on the trail are largely due to the hiker's own poor judgment. The most critical aspect of hiking is to respond properly in all situations and keep the level of risk manageable so you can get home safely.
Danger and safety are relative, and even staying home can be dangerous.
Imagine if you slipped and fell in the shower, some of the most common injuries including sprains, fractures and torn ligaments can occur. You may think this is a rare occurrence, but the truth is that millions of people are injured every year because of slip and falls in the shower.
Staying at home, let alone outdoors, is particularly prone to the unexpected. Nowadays, more and more people have a hiking hobby, and with it, more and more accidents happen because of lack of experience and preparation. We always see shocking accidents on the social news, but there is no need to panic too much, they can all be avoided if you are well prepared.
I. What are the dangers involved in hiking?
We often see in the news that hikers have accidents along the way and need to request rescue teams to come out to help evacuate. But under what circumstances do you need to evacuate? What are the most common emergencies?
Type "lost hiker" into your search engine and a plethora of articles and reports will appear. Your biggest fear before hiking is being attacked by a bear? Yet many more hikers die from getting lost than from being attacked by wild animals. So what situations can cause you to get lost on a hike? What can you do to make sure you get home?
- Research the hike before you go
While not all online tips are accurate, you can find some very detailed information by searching the route.
- Prepare a map of the area
Depending on where you're going, buy a local map. Although you usually always have a map app on your phone as well, leaving a paper map will prevent your phone from running out of battery, no signal, and other conditions.
- Bring a compass and learn to use it
Learning how to navigate with a map and compass is an important skill to develop for hiking.
- Have an outdoor GPS
Don't count too much on your cell phone GPS. Despite the advanced GPS technology on your smartphone, it doesn't offer the same advantages as a GPS device used for the outdoors.
- Don't venture off the trail
Sometimes you have to get off the trail for a bit, but watch out, there are people who get lost when they leave the trail to go to the restroom.
- Stop in time
When you find yourself completely lost, stop. Don't keep going in the wrong direction. Calm down, don't panic, and someone will eventually come to you if you abandon this hike.
- Plan ahead
What is your best course of action? Can you turn back to your marker point? Do you have a cell phone signal or satellite communication device you can use? Are you prepared to spend the night in the event of an emergency?
2. Leg and foot injuries
No one wants to get hurt on purpose when hiking, but some actions and choices can increase the chances of injury. Overestimating your own abilities can lead to fatigue, and you are more likely to trip and fall if you are fatigued.
People who are impaired in some way may also be injured if they participate in a hike without the condition. People who are afraid of heights, for example, should be careful about considering hiking because the sport can put you in a dangerous situation. Even if you think you can physically complete some of the high places you climb and walk, you still have to know that it is more of a mental challenge for you.
As well as wearing the right shoes can also prevent injuries. When hiking in some national parks, we are always surprised to see a lot of people walking the trails in flip-flops. New shoes are also something to be wary of; new shoes can always lead to sore feet and blisters that can make your hike tough. If you don't wear your hiking shoes old, or don't smear them with medicine and rest before those sorely worn areas turn into blisters, every step that follows will become painful.
In addition to the damage caused by ill-fitting shoes, sprains can happen with a little carelessness on a hike. If you have sprained your ankle, you would be wise to follow the RICE procedure, which is used for first aid treatment of soft tissue injuries.
- Rest: Resting the injured ankle can prevent the injury from getting worse.
- Ice: Ice can reduce swelling and pain.
- Compress: Compression can provide support, preferably with an elastic bandage, or if not, a spare t-shirt.
- Elevate: Elevating the injured leg above the heart can also help reduce swelling.
3. Encountering wildlife on the trail
The presence of wildlife on a hike can be a good thing or a bad thing. Your hike can be a great opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife, and viewing wildlife is a very exciting thing that may leave lifelong memories.
But you should also research potential wildlife near your destination ahead of time to make sure you have a good understanding of potentially dangerous animals. In fact, the job of many wildlife experts, professional photographers and adventurers is to get close to wildlife that can kill humans. However, unlike these people, most hikers may want to avoid dangerous wildlife such as carnivores, large omnivores and herbivores, and animals that can sting or bite.
Bears, cougars, wolves, wild boars, moose, venomous snakes, scorpions and bees are all animals to avoid. For example, hiking in bear-infested terrain is a very important situation to be aware of. Bears, like most other predators, are active in the evening and early morning. If you choose to hike at dawn, dusk or night, beware of bears and be prepared with bear spray. If possible, do not travel alone; groups of four or more will greatly reduce the chances of encountering bears by walking along the route and making some noise. Remember, walking through dense vegetation and brush will make you an easy target for an animal attack.
Watch your step, avoid snakes, wear proper boots, and don't wear shorts, especially at night. In general, most snakes will not actively attack you unless you try to scare them or make them feel threatened.
While the occurrence of an avalanche is generally unexpected, there are tools and forecasts that can help you understand the day's conditions. Interestingly, almost all avalanches involving people are triggered by the victims themselves or fellow travelers, and according to some experts, about 85 percent of avalanche victims are triggered by their own landslides.
To avoid avalanches, the best thing to do is to avoid snow-covered mountains, because the longer you stay in avalanche-prone terrain, the greater the risk of being involved in an avalanche.
You must think in advance about what to do in the event of an avalanche, because once it starts, there's no time for you to think.
-- If you happen to be in the path of a sudden avalanche, try to move up and to the side of the hill to avoid the pile-up. You are not going to be able to run through it, so don't try to outrun it and move to the side as quickly as possible to avoid the center of the avalanche, where the snow is deepest.
-- If you are surrounded by an avalanche, drop your gear and move quickly. If there are trees around, try to grab one. It's hard, but if you can manage to get to a branch fast enough, it may save your life.
-- If you are buried, close your mouth to avoid suffocation, try to relax your body and your breathing to preserve energy and oxygen. The more you struggle, the deeper you sink. Once you are buried under the snow, dig a small hole with your hands or a shovel so that you can be provided with some oxygen while waiting for rescuers to find you.
- Flash floods
Once a flash flood breaks out, the water level will rise almost immediately. If you hear the sound of increasing water, then you only have a few minutes to get to higher ground for shelter. So, in case of danger is not a minute to fall, this may be your only chance to survive and you should act as quickly as possible to try to escape the flash flood. Flash floods are a natural disaster that can be difficult for individuals to predict unless you are standing on high ground away from the danger. They can destroy everything in their path without warning, not only hikers, but local residents, communities, homes, farms and livestock.
- Rock Avalanches
Falling rocks and ice can cause head and spinal injuries, which can be life-threatening. If your route takes you through areas of avalanches and rock falls, then walk at night or in the early morning hours and move quickly, paying attention to weather changes and avoiding heavy rain in these areas.
In most places, rockfalls are rare events, usually caused by flash floods, winter storms or earthquakes. Stay away from waterfalls and rumbling creeks, and stay away from other hikers if there are any high up, they may accidentally drop a rock from above.
II. Pay close attention to the weather
- When planning a hike, pay close attention to the weather forecast and conditions
Changing weather patterns can quickly change a comfortable hike into a very challenging one! This can make a hike take longer than expected, or turn the route from easy to difficult.
- At high altitude in the mountains, the weather can change quickly
- Bad weather can lead to hypothermia or heat stroke
- Be aware that if the sky darkens, winds pick up or lightning appears, it is likely that a thunderstorm is imminent
If you encounter bad weather on the trail, return immediately or find the nearest shelter as soon as possible and do not attempt to complete the hike in bad weather.
III. Items to ensure safety
- Prescription medication for ongoing illnesses
- Bring a cell phone with an emergency number
- A power source or battery pack
- Map, compass, flashlight, utility knife, matches, and sunscreen
- First aid kit and insect repellent
- Survival whistle
- Sealed plastic bags to make sure all your equipment stays dry in the pouring rain
- Bring an outdoor backpack and pack these things in the bag according to the frequency of use and the degree of importance. The scientific compartmentalization of the outdoor backpack will enable us to find these emergency items in the first place in case of danger.
Fourth, the hiker's physical fitness and medical preparation
- Don't be too confident in your physical fitness and never underestimate the mountain trails.
- Be alert and pay attention to negative physical signs of group members, as well as to the different physical abilities of different members.
- Communicate with group members in a timely manner when you are overworked or have things you can't handle.
- Younger and inexperienced hikers may be more prone to fatigue or dehydration problems.
- Don't push yourself after an injury; seek appropriate medical assistance.