Outdoor Safety

We’re preparing for the days to get longer and lighter, and at Outland, that only means one thing: It’s time to play outside. Whether it’s the beach, desert, mountains, or lakes, immersing yourself in the natural world is beneficial to your creativity, changing your perspective, and aiding in the amount of vitamin D you receive. Though, no matter how fun it is to be within the wilderness, no fun can be had if proper safety precautions are not taken. The list below is only a suggestion of outdoor safety tips. Always consult experts or park rangers with any questions:

1. Travel with a Companion or Notify Someone

Always tell a friend where you’re heading, even if you’re bringing someone else along. Call your mom, significant other, park ranger, or even leave a note in your home or car. Just let someone know where you’re going, and if possible, never travel alone. If you’re visiting a remote area, consider traveling in groups of four. That way, if someone’s hurt, one person can stay with the victim, while two others go for help. Anything can happen in the wild. Sudden illness. Animal attack. Personal injury. Even dangerous people. It never hurts to be prepared.

2. Be in Good Physical Condition

If you’re hiking, set a comfortable pace. A group trip should be made for the weakest member of the group. Be sure to consider any pre-existing medical conditions and that you have the proper skills and ability to survive your adventure. You may need to know how to read a compass, erect a temporary shelter, or provide first aid. If you plan to travel to high altitudes, make sure to consider that component, and try to get in the best physical shape possible before setting out. It never hurts to stretch it out!

3. Watch your Footing

Outdoor safety is especially essential while hiking or on trails. Be sure to understand that trees and bushes cannot always be trusted to hold you. Stay on developed and well-traveled trails, and if you’re climbing, stay on dry, solid rock areas to avoid falling. Be aware that leaves can mask slippery areas, and low hanging branches pose another risk. If you’re going to be venturing out towards cliffs, remember this: they do not mix with alcohol. Judgement, agility, and balance are all reduced after consuming alcohol.

4. Wear Appropriate Clothing and Check Equipment

Be sure to wear appropriate clothing for the trail conditions and the season. Remember your headlamp and your raincoat/poncho. Heat stroke and hypothermia are no joke. Keep your equipment in good working order, and inspect it before leaving; don’t wait until you’re already on the trail. Always carry emergency signaling devices…and a snack doesn’t hurt either. Trail Mix, anyone?

5. Be Weather Wise

Keep an eye out for current and predicted weather conditions. In the Ocoee area, weather can change without warning. Learn the signs for changing weather or approaching storms. Avoid bare ridge tops, exposed places, lone trees, streams, and rocks during a lightning storm. Find shelter in a densely forested area at lower elevations. Even in summer, exposure to wind and rain can result in hypothermia.

6. Learn Basic First Aid

Learn basic first-aid so that you will be able to treat and identify certain injuries and illnesses. Outdoor safety includes carrying a first-aid kit with you. Learn to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, and dehydration – and know how to treat them. A good start with your first-aid kit includes:

  • Notepad and pencil
  • Biohazard bag
  • Gloves
  • Band-Aids/Steristrips
  • Tweezers/Scissors
  • Thermal blanket
  • Gauze pads
  • Thermometer
  • Whistle
  • Signal mirror
  • Sling
  • Map
  • Basic over-the-counter meds
  • 2-3 day supply of necessary prescriptions meds

7. Make Camp Before Dark

Traveling after nightfall has resulted in many accidents involving falling. Be sure to travel only in daylight. Set up camp well-away from the edge of cliffs, and learn the terrain during daylight. If you must leave in the dark, only traverse areas you’ve seen in the daylight, go with a friend, and carry a strong flashlight.

8. Think Before You Drink

We’ve already touched on the dangers of drinking in the wild…but that’s not related to alcohol alone. Outland wants you to think before you drink…water. No matter how clean or how pure stream water looks, it’s likely to contain parasites and water-borne organisms that can cause discomfort and sometimes serious illness. Pack your water in, or purify it through chemical treatment. With that being said, DRINK LOTS OF WATER. You can live three weeks without food. But no water??? You’ll probably die within 3-5 days. Pack it. Drink it. Survive.

As you prepare for your adventure, don’t forget to also get mentally prepared. How will it feel with no cell phone? No social media? No emails. That can be a major adjustment. One of the best things you can bring along is an open mind and an open heart as you practice these outdoor safety tips!