Backwoods Safety Tips

Backwoods Safety Tips

The difference between survival and adventure may well be preparation.

On one of my first hiking trips in the Colorado Rockies, I was above 11,000 feet on a May morning. Temperatures were quickly rising into the seventies so I was hiking in shorts and a T-shirt, while breaking in new boots. As I approached the ridgeline, I noticed a small cloud passing over the top. The small cloud was followed by a bigger one, it began to hail, and soon the temperature had dropped into the forties and the ground was covered with ice.

Your kit needs to be light and simple or you won’t carry it

Though I wasn’t in danger, I could have been uncomfortable on the moderate hike back down the mountain. But I simply opened my daypack, donned a vest and poncho, and ate lunch.

Part of the attraction of the backcountry is its unpredictable nature. Being prepared for surprises includes both the right gear and the knowledge to use it.

Snow photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

The point of outdoor skills,” says Glenn Wheeler, “is to make you more confident outdoors, not more afraid.” Glenn is a first responder who serves in three capacities: Emergency Medical Service, Search and Rescue, and Firefighter. His area is north Arkansas and the draw of tourists to the area makes it one of the top regions in the U.S. for search and rescue. “The most common reasons for rescue in our area are injuries from falls and getting lost. Sometimes people overestimate their abilities and can’t get back out,” says Glenn.

To avoid becoming a rescue victim, Glenn suggests researching the area you plan to visit, understand your abilities, and use common sense, especially around steep terrain.

As far as preparation, Glenn suggests you dress for the worst and carry standard first aid gear. Many survival kits are available and you may want to add specific items for the trip you have planned. Perhaps more important, suggests Glenn, is the first-aid knowledge to go with it.

To avoid becoming a rescue victim, Glenn suggests researching the area you plan to visit, understand your abilities, and use common sense...

Besides the medical components, make sure your kit includes other items you are most likely to need. These include methods to contact others, two ways to build a fire, a map and compass, a knife, and waterproof shelter. Also, leave word with someone about where you are going and when you’ll be back.

If your phone has a GPS app, learn how to use it,” he adds. That way if you call for help, you can relay your coordinates. Also, Glenn suggests everyone have a whistle. “You can’t always call for help,” he explains. The sound of a whistle carries well. “Your kit needs to be light and simple or you won’t carry it,” says Glenn.

Snow photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

One other tip Glenn shared was a way to treat hypothermia. On rescue missions, he carries a garbage bag, candle and lighter. When someone needs to be warmed up, he puts the bag over them and pokes a hole for their head at the top. Then he lights the candle and holds it inside. The bag holds the heat and warms the person quickly.

It probably would have worked just as well under my poncho on one cold Colorado hike.

Binoculars, Spotting Scopes, Monoculars and Laser Range Finders are of course great at identifying distant objects, routes, approaching weather, all from a safe distance. In an extreme survival situation and providing the sun is shining, you could also use the lenses to magnify the suns rays and start a fire.

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  • Hawke Endurance ED 10x42 Monocular

    Hawke Endurance ED 10x42

    Monocular

    Stunning optics providing crisp, clear and bright images with enhanced light transmission. Endurance models benefit from our System H5 optics. ED glass is utilised to reduce colour fringing. The Fully Multi-Coated lenses provide high resolution images which ensure no details are lost when viewing at distances down to 2m.

    Find Out More

Jim Mize
Award-winning writer
acreektricklesthroughit.com

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