Essentials for Hiking Safety -Things You Need to Know to Hike Safely.
Whether you are planning an hour hike or a day hike, weather conditions can change; so always be prepared for all eventualities. You may fall and be injured or you may get lost or you may lose the light. One or all of these conditions may happen so be sure to pack the following 'must have' items before starting your hike. Be cautious and stay safe.
- Be sure you are in shape and prepared physically for the hike. Do not attempt to hike more than you can handle physically.
- Learn how to identify common poisonous plants such as poison ivy or poison oak.
- Be sure to check hiking conditions in the areas you will be hiking. Paths can become damaged and you may need to find alternate routes.
- Try to plan a hike with at least one other person. Or, join a group hike.
- When embarking on your hike be sure to let someone know where you are hiking and when you expect to be back.
Do not rely on a cell phone as they are not reliable on hikes in the woods or mountains.
- A backpack is a must for carrying necessary items such as water, snack, clothing, compass/GPS, and other potentially useful items. Depending on the location of your hike; rainwear is always handy. You can buy a waterproof poncho that is light and folds up small.
- Carry a watch so that you know when to expect dusk and nightfall.
- Carry a trail map and compass or GPS. Even with a GPS it's a good idea to learn to read a trail map and practice before going out on a long hike.
- Carry a whistle in case you're separated from other hikers or need to call for help. (Do not rely on cell phones in the woods.).
- Carry a flashlight (with new or backup batteries) in the event you lose the light.
- Carry water. Water is a must regardless of the length of your hike. You can buy stainless steel flasks that are light and efficient. In an emergency, plastic water bottles work but are not recommended for several reasons including:
Plastic water bottles are a pollutant and bad for the environment.
Plastic water bottles can be bad for your health as they can leach toxins in hot or cold weather.
- Food. Pack some nuts, trail mixes (nuts and dried fruit) or other nutritious snacks that are dry and not subject to spoil if hiking in hot or wet weather; but however short or long your hike, be sure to bring a flask of water. For longer hikes in hot weather at least one quart of water is recommended.
- Bring an epi-pen if you have any allergies that may require an epi-pen such as nuts or wasp and bee stings.
- Wear a waterproof rain jacket, poncho, or other rain-wear with hood. Getting wet is uncomfortable at the least and can cause chills and illness in cooler temperatures.
- Wear comfortable but secure shoes or boots. Even on easy hikes, do not wear shoes that easily fall off thereby endangering you and other hikers in a steep climb. For more challenging hikes, wear hiking boots or sturdy boots with rubber soles to help prevent slipping and offer support.
- Wear versatile clothing (preferably clothing that dries quickly) and bring layers. Long pants and long sleeved shirts are excellent in all weather conditions as they help protect against sunburn, poison ivy, thorny bushes, and a fall. Layers will help if the temperature turns cold, or as a backup if you get wet.
- Warm weather clothing should include light clothing that dries quickly.
- Cold weather clothing should include a light warm jacket, warm socks, shirts, pants, hat and gloves and appropriate hiking shoes or boots. Cold weather clothing also includes layers to peel off or put on as needed.
- A hat and sun glasses are essential for either warm or cold weather. When hiking in snow on a sunny day, sun glasses and a hat will help omit the glare of the sun and protect your eyes. In warm weather, a sun-hat is recommended.
- Carry insect repellent in hot weather and buggy climates.
- DO NOT wear perfume or scents in any form as they can attract insects that bite or sting.
- Fire. Bring a lighter, matches (in plastic so they stay dry), or someway to start a fire if you are stranded, cold, and may want to signal for help.
- Small amount of toilet paper or tissues in case you need a bathroom break in the woods.
- Review the DEC Brochure for a complete list of safety tips (pdf).
- First Aid Kit. In the event that you fall or suffer an accident.
First Aid Kit
. Any prescription medications in a labeled bag
. Ibuprofen, Imodium® (for upset stomach and diarrhea), and an antihistamine (treats allergic reactions)
. Moleskin and athletic tape
. Various adhesive bandages of varying size
. A small roll of sterile gauze
. A CPR mask
. Several pairs of latex or nitrile gloves
. Alcohol based sanitizing gel
. A pair of tweezers
. A CPR/First aid card
. A small knife or scissors
. Antiseptic ointment, to be used only after cleaning a wound
. Hydrocortisone cream for insect bites and poisonous plants
. Second Skin® or liquid bandages
. Safety pins
. Electrolyte replacement powder (homemade or similar to Gatorade).
Source: Red Cross Basic First-aid Kit
Non-essentials for Hiking
- Walking stick is optional.
- Binoculars for bird watching and animal spotting.
Hike the Hudson Valley
For places to go Hiking in Westchester, New York.
For places to go Hiking in Rockland, New York.
For places to go Hiking in Putnam, New York.
For places to go Hiking in Orange, New York.
For places to go Hiking in Dutchess, New York.
For places to go Hiking in Ulster, New York.
For places to go Hiking in Columbia, New York.
For places to go Hiking in Greene, New York.
upper-Hudson Valley and Capital District
For places to go Hiking in Rensselaer, New York.
For places to go Hiking in Albany, New York.