Outdoor Safety Tips to Prepare You for Your Next Adventure

Woman hiking with yellow backpack

Outdoor activities are enjoyed by a lot of people around the world. In fact, data from Statistics Canada shows that almost 7 in 10 Canadians participate in outdoor or wilderness activities, with some enjoying more than one outdoor recreational event. Meanwhile, 53% of Americans aged 6 and above participated in an outdoor activity at least once last year. Across the Atlantic, 49% of Europeans participate every week, or more often, in outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, cycling, snow sports and other mountain activities.

Aside from the health benefits outdoor activities provide, Canadians also enjoy exploring the outdoors since we have access to plenty of pristine and protected national parks. However, it’s also important to remember that there are plenty of hazards outdoors and not being adequately prepared may ruin your trip.

In this post, we’ve listed below some tips you can use to have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Always travel with a companion

If you’re planning to do anoutdoor activity in a remote and unfrequented area, it’s best that you always go with a companion. That way if you find yourself in an emergency situation, then you won't be alone. If you’re going somewhere that’s far off the trail, it’s even better that you go with a small group of people. In the event that one of you gets hurt, another one can keep the injured company while the others go look for help. Depending on where you’re hiking you may or may not be in cellular network range. Offline mapping apps will help locate you and when you’re in cellular network range, contacting emergency services with accurate coordinates will help reduce response time. But in those instances when you long for some alone time outdoors, be sure to leave your itinerary with someone you know, including where you plan on going, the equipment you’re bringing, and the date of your return.

Take a wilderness first responder class

Having the right knowledge on what to do during emergencies is crucial if you plan on doing any outdoor adventures. The best way to learn how to respond to emergencies during an outdoor trip is by enrolling yourself in a wilderness first responder class. These classes are taught by various professionals such as nurses in wilderness medicine, who have a good understanding of basic medical principles. In order to qualify as a teacher for emergency situations, these nurses are often required to complete an RN to BSN program that’s accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Other professionals that provide wilderness first responder education are emergency medical technicians who have plenty of experience responding to outdoor emergencies.

Keep your body in optimal shape

Before going on any outdoor excursion, be sure to prepare yourself physically and make sure that your body is in a good condition. If you have any medical conditions, be sure to talk to your doctor first and get their approval before signing up for the trip. Also, be sure to stay active prior to your trip to increase your stamina ⁠— especially if you plan on doing strenuous outdoor activities. In addition, if you plan to hike or climb to high altitudes, do your due diligence to learn how to properly acclimate your body to your destination.

Inspect your equipment before your trip

It is crucial that you check your equipment and make sure that everything is in good working order before your trip. Hiking shoes, sunscreen, camping gear — there’s a lot to remember to pack. An easy way to do this is by creating a checklist where you can inspect your items one by one and make sure that they’re complete and working. Do try to bring emergency batteries and portable chargers, so you're sure that your devices won’t run out of juice in the middle of your outdoor trip. On longer excursions, small solar panel chargers come in handy to give small handheld devices enough charge to keep going.

Don’t wander off the trail

There’s a good reason why trails and designated hiking camps exist: these lessen the impact you have on the outdoors. For this reason, always try to stay on constructed trails so you avoid creating routes that may scar the landscape. Moreover, almost all existing trails have been vetted for safety, so trying to stay on the path can help you avoid potential injuries and emergencies. Bring a map! You can also download a navigation app on your phone to make sure that you know where you are at any given time and to prevent yourself from wandering too far off the trail. The Map Store has more than a million maps of popular national parks, hiking areas, and topographic maps for any outdoor adventure. By staying on the designated outdoor trails and camps, you can move through natural areas and limit your impact on the environment, as well as avoid any unnecessary injuries.