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​Take a Hike!

Assuming the desired outcome is a zero TRIR score for you and your companions, there are a number of precautions before hitting trails.

​Tips from a Scout Mom and Safety Enthusiast

Another Amazon package arrives at our doorstep. This is the third one in four weeks. Mind you, it’s three months after the holidays. My husband magically appears and whisks away the package before I can inspect it any further.

“What is it this time?” I’m not really trying to hide the snarky tone and side-eye.

“This is the last one, I promise!” His excitement is infectious, but let me tell you—I get the same snark and look from him when my scrapbook stuff gets delivered.

I peer over his shoulder as he opens the box. At first, I mistake it for another sleeping bag (we have, like, 12) but then I notice it is an air mattress. “This is compact enough for our upcoming ten-day scout hike,” he explains, “Very important to have because a good night’s sleep means less fatigue for the daytime trek. Reduction in fatigue means a safer trip!” Clearly, my husband is listening to me talk about my work. I give him a thumbs up.

As the weather gets warmer, camping activity increases. Hikers and campers are as varied as the geography itself with young and old, novice and veterans exploring the terrain. Throw in the element of weather, and it’s safe to say any possible number of challenges can occur during a hiking/camping trip.

Assuming the desired outcome is a zero TRIR score for you and your companions, there are a number of precautions to take to ensure your trip is safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.

For hiking, I draw upon the fundamentals I’ve learned and currently teach as a scout leader: the Ten Essentials. You don’t have to be a scout to benefit from these rudiments, however. Grab a backpack and make sure it contains the following items for a day hike:

• Flashlight/Headlamp

• First Aid Kit

• Filled Water Bottle/Storage

• Trail Food

• Whistle

• Sun Protection (Sunscreen/Hat)

• Map/Compass/Whistle

• Extra Clothing

• Pocket Knife

• Matches/Fire Starters

Sunscreen should be your go-to whether you are hiking or just stepping out to run some errands. Pairing your sunscreen with a hat does double duty, shielding you from the rays and weather elements. Make sure your First Aid Kit is current, and that the batteries are new in the flashlight. While it may be tempting to throw in a bag of chips and a Gatorade instead of the trail mix and water, the former combo can actually dehydrate you.

A whistle comes in handy if you get lost – calling out for help quickly leads to a hoarse voice, and doesn’t carry over as far a distance as the sound of a whistle. Thanks to the ever present smartphone, “getting lost” seems as antiquated as crank calling, doesn’t it? As dependent as we are on today’s technology, it is not uncommon to find yourself unplugged involuntarily as you traverse locations with zero cell reception. A tried and true compass can get you out of a bind when your cellular one draws a blank.

Equipping yourself a pocket knife like a Swiss Army RangerGrip 79 is invaluable. This tool can help you open a can, tighten a screw on a piece of cooking equipment, cut cord, and trim a bandage (in case you need to utilize that First Aid Kit).

Getting overwhelmed with all of these items? Consider multi-purpose products, like a 7-In-1 Survival LED Flashlight Compass Whistle and Thermometer for Hiking and Camping.

Whether your adventure involves an hour hike or weekend stay, please be sure to also engage in the following personal safety tips:

• Be aware of your surroundings – check ahead for the weather forecast, and check in with a park ranger/host regarding any park alerts

• While not a member of the “Ten Essentials” bringing bug spray can do wonders for you

• Wear boots – crocs, sandals, high heels (this is no place for Jimmy Choos), and even a pair of sneakers do not offer sturdy footing nor protection from a campfire

• Speaking of campfires:

• Remove tripping hazards around the cooking area

• Have a water source nearby when you start your fire (assuming there are no restrictions in place)

• Never leave your fire unattended

• When you put out your fire, make sure it is completely out and not hot to the touch (white/grey coals can flare up again if there are wind gusts)

• Respect wildlife – don’t make contact with or feed the animals, and keep all food (and trash) out of reach from the animals in the form of airtight containers/food lockers and trash receptacles – this includes NOT bringing food into your tent

These tips and several more can be found on the National Park Service site.

Being one with nature on a hike or camping trip is invigorating and can be a transcendental experience… so I think I will go online now to order more scrapbooking materials for the pictures that will come about from my husband’s impending scouting adventure!