Outdoor activities like skiing, hiking and mountain climbing are a great deal of fun but come with risks that you need to think about before setting off. If you want to learn the basics about staying safe during your outdoor pursuits, then keep reading below.
- Safety tips for the most popular outdoor activities
- What are the most common risks of outdoor activities?
1. Know What Your Limits Are
When you’re interested in a new activity, but have little or no experience, it’s easy to set yourself a harder goal than you’re ready for. Most of the time, you will be able to get by with a few nerve-wracking moments and a story to tell your friends, but the problem of overestimating yourself can be huge: think dismemberment, death or costly legal bills.
If there’s more than just you taking on an activity, then you need to assess the rest of the group’s limits too. A person riding a bike for the first time might underestimate how uncomfortable their saddle is. Just because you are able to cope, doesn’t mean that the rest of your group can.
You need to think about these limitations when deciding what target to set yourselves:
- Technical limits – have you got the training and skills required for the activity?
- Physical limits – is everyone in your group physically fit enough to undertake the activity?
You also need to consider any emotional or mental limits including:
- Can your group cope if they get cold or wet?
- Do you all get on well?
- If one person has had enough of the activity, will all the group turn back together?
These things can cause worse problems than walking further than you should.
2. Make Sure You’ve Got the Correct Gear
Lots of people say that if you’ve got the right gear and equipment, there’s no such thing as bad weather. Many people find walking in the rain and wind enjoyable as long as they are comfortable and warm. Outdoor pursuits certainly don’t have to be completed in sunny weather.
However, your equipment and gear choices are crucial when the weather is poor. Make sure you plan what you are going to wear before organizing the activity. You also need to think about whether you’ve got the correct supplies in case a problem arises. Do you have enough food in case you get lost and have to sleep outside overnight? Have you got a blanket or something to keep you warm and dry? If you’re planning on covering an area that you haven’t covered before, then you should also consider taking emergency supplies such as a flashlight, cell phone, whistle, flare, and a first aid kit.
Outdoor activities can be a great deal of fun, but we need to make sure that we stay safe. Make a plan before you set off of the area you’re going to cover and give it to someone who isn’t going with you so that they can easily find you if you don’t return. Try not to be too adventurous and make sure you take the right equipment and wear the right clothing to keep you safe.
Safety tips for the most popular outdoor activities
If you love spending time outside doing something good for your body and mind, you need to reduce the risk of accidents as much as possible. Here are some of the tips to follow with the most common outdoor activities:
Running and jogging
- Warm-up before you start jogging/running
- Take shoes with efficient shock absorbency and support
- If you have flat feet, take shoes with wear motion control and stability
- Look for cushioned or flexible shoes if you have high arch feet
- When jogging/running in inclement weather, wear shoes with extra strength and traction on wet surfaces
- Avoid wearing earphones
- Run against traffic and follow all traffic signals and rules
- Go with a friend or at least with your dog
- Stop if you feel muscle pain or similar
- Change your routine from time to time to remain alert
- Carry pepper spray or mace, if it’s legal
- Don’t wear cotton socks
- Don’t make eye contact if you run into an aggressive dog. Stay calm and step away slowly.
- Run/jog on well-maintained trails and not on tracks with poison ivy, fallen branches, or overgrowth
- Have a whistle and a cellphone on you
- Start with easy hikes and wait until you take the complex hiking trips
- Put on waterproof boots with thick soles and ankle support
- Have a constant pace to preserve energy
- Break in your shoes before you go hiking
- Hike with a friend
- Don’t hike in extreme weather
- Lace boots tightly, but leave room for your toes to wiggle
- Stay on trail
- Have snacks, beef jerky, energy bars, and trail mix to boost your energy
- Stay hydrated
- Arrive early to have enough time to set up the shelter
- Have map, compass, and multi-tool knife
- Pick a site with trees or shrubs to protect against wind
- Have a first aid kit
- Have someone watch out for the camping fire at all times
- Make the fire away from the tent to avoid sparks, or errant flames catching the tent on fire
- Pick a tent made of flame retardant fabrics
- Look out for poisonous plants
- Keep the campsite clean and store food in sealed recipients
- Swim in areas with lifeguards
- Stay out of the water if you don’t know how to swim
- Dive in safe areas
- If you get stuck, float with a current and don’t fight it
- Swim in a lake or river only if you’re a strong and experienced swimmer
- Don’t drink alcohol before swimming
- Don’t jump on other people nor push them
- Swim with a friend
- Pay attention to car doors
- Ride single file in the direction of traffic
- Use hand signals to inform others about your moves
- Put on a helmet that fits you well and is made according to safety standards
- Be careful at intersections
- Have clothing and helmet in bright colors
- Ride during the day, if possible
- When riding in low light or at night, wear reflective clothing
- Practice as much as possible in car-free areas
- Use reflectors on your bike, rearview mirror, bell, and put on a bright headlight
Canoeing and kayaking
- Check out the water level before you go canoeing/kayaking
- Put on a life jacket
- Sit on the seats
- Develop your skills and jump into rivers/rapids only after you’re ready
- Go with at least two friends when you use just one craft
- Know the water; it is low and slow or high and fast? Does it have hidden rocks? Are there rocky crevices? Etc
- Don’t stand when you’re away from shore
- Tie your belongings to the canoe—the risk of a tip-over is never null
- Pack extra clothes, first aid kit, map, water, sunscreen, and snacks in a waterproof duffle bag
- Make sure the weather is fine
- Get a rope in case you have to pull someone in or tow another craft
- Have a canoeing whistle on you
Sledding and tobogganing
- Stay with your children when they sled, especially if they’re under 10
- Use sleds with brakes and steering mechanisms
- Put on thick gloves and heavy boots
- Wear a helmet
- Stay away from slops with poles, trees, rocks, and fences
- Make sure that your equipment is in good condition
- Don’t use equipment with sharp edges or cracks
- Point your feet downhill and not your head
- Don’t sled in areas with rivers, ponds, lakes, and streams
- Pick gentle slopes with enough room for the sled to stop at the end
Skiing and snowboarding
- Put on helmet
- Look for sturdy and reliable clothing and equipment
- Pick gear that is easy to adjust for best comfort
- Don’t involve in risky behavior
- Dress in layers and wear bright colors
- Choose snowboards with leashes and skis with brakes
- Wear clothes that are water repellent and slide resistant
- Never stop in the middle of a run, but on the side
- Stay away from closed runs and don’t ski into prohibited areas
- Look around you and uphill before your cross, merge, or start down
- Give right of way to the skiers in front of you
- Have a regular pace so that you don’t get injured or tired
What are the most common risks of outdoor activities?
Uninitiated, unprepared and careless people can end up with injuries when they are not aware of the hazards associated with outdoor activities. The dangers associated with going into nature are endless, but some of the most common would be:
Exposure to hot water, open flames, or even the sun might require medical assistance. You should soak injured tissue in cold water and apply antibiotic ointment. Wrap in gauze and use a pain killer as well.
Infections from scrapes and cuts
You have to stop the bleeding by applying pressure. You will need gauze, clean water, and antibiotic ointment to manage the cuts.
Even if blisters don’t pose a threat to your life, they can be really annoying and ruin the whole outdoor experience. Abrasive equipment on sensitive tissue cause blisters that can get really painful. If the blisters are large, you need to carefully and slowly drain them. Continue with treatment for wounds.
When engaging in outdoor activities, one of the main rules is to drink water as often as possible. By the moment you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Bring enough clean water, purification tablets, personal straw filter, or pot to boil water.
Lower leg injuries
Knee and ankle injuries like tears, sprains, and fractures represent some of the most common injuries amongst outdoor enthusiasts. If you can put weight on the leg, tape it up and elevate it when possible. Otherwise, splint your leg and get to the doctor.