Staying Safe Outside: The Essentials of Outside Safety
Posted Jan 24 2013 10:02pm
Woman in the Forest by George Hodan
In my opinion, exercising in the great outdoors is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding ways to help keep a healthy lifestyle. However, there are some basic risks and responsibilities involved in keeping yourself safe from danger and harm. If you choose to exercise outside, please keep the following tips in mind. After all, your safety while exercising is just as important as your overall health.
Tip # 1: Know Where You Are. While exploring the great outdoors is a wonderful way to get exercise it is important that you have a basic idea of where you are, and where you’ve been at all times. While you don’t need to necessarily know that you are at mile 6.2576 of an 8 mile trail approximately 0.3 miles to the east of the ranger station, having a familiarity of the area is important. So while you’re walking, hiking, or even cross-country skiing, take a moment and re-orient yourself to your surroundings. Many people choose to take a small compass and a map with them to help.
Tip #2: Wear a Medical ID bracelet/tag. This tip works for just about any situation, but it’s imperative that an outdoor enthusiast wears a medical id badge or bracelet, especially if they have allergies to certain medicines, plants, animals or other medically important information. Truth is that things sometimes do happen on the trail, and you might not be able to tell the first responder that you are allergic to penicillin. It’s best to have something on hand that can. Also, if you use an epipen for allergic reactions such as bee stings, be sure to carry one with you as well.
Tip # 3: Keep a few Band-Aids in your pocket. This might seem like a no-brainer, but hiking through the woods can lead to scrapes and blisters. While most people consider them nothing more than a minor annoyance, the injuries can get infected quite easily in a natural environment. Having a few small bandages in your pocket can go a long way to protecting yourself from infection.
Tip # 4: Tell others where you are. If you choose to exercise outside alone, it is critical that you let others know where you are, and when you expect to be home. This way if a problem or emergency arises there is a greater chance of someone sending out the alarm on your behalf.
Tip # 5: Wear the proper clothing. This is probably another no-brainer, but it does bear repeating. Wear the appropriate clothes for the activity. Don’t wear open toed sandals when you’re hiking through a ravine. Don’t dress in shorts when cross country skiing.
Tip #6: Be aware. This is perhaps one of the most important tips that I can give you. If you don’t remember anything else I say, remember this: Be aware of your surroundings. It doesn’t matter if you are jogging down a suburban street at lunch, hiking through a local park at dusk, or strapping on a pair of skis first thing in the morning. Pay attention to the people around you, the surroundings, and if anything feels a little bit off, trust your instincts and get out of the situation.
Exercising outside can be a wonderful, exhilarating experience. Keeping these simple tips in mind will help you make sure it stays that way for years to come.
Laura Seeber is a geologist, environmental professional, writer, and outdoor and nature enthusiast. Born just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Laura has spent the majority of her life hiking through the forest, descending into caves, climbing over boulders and up cliffs, navigating river rapids, and writing and blogging about her adventures. She currently resides in Illinois and travels country in search of the next great outdoor activity or adventure.