Day Hiker Safety Checklist

7 July 2016
 Categories: Health & Medical , Blog


Day hikes are a great way to get out to enjoy the woods and mountains without the need for long trips into the backcountry or overnight stays. Just because the hike isn't supposed to be overnight, though, is no reason not to be prepared. The following checklist will ensure that you stay safe while on the trails.

#1: Always bring the 10 essentials

No matter how short the hike, the 10 essentials help ensure your safety on the trail. These include:

  • Navigation – bring a map (and compass if you know how to use it). Don't depend on GPS or smart phone maps.

  • Water. Bring more than you think you need, especially in hot weather.

  • Food. A few high-protein trail snacks will keep you energized.

  • Weather protection. Rain gear or a light jacket at a minimum, since the weather can change quickly.

  • Heat source. A lighter or firestarter of some sort.

  • First aid kit. This will be explored in more depth.

  • A knife. This is an all-purpose trail tool.

  • Flashlight. Even a small one is helpful if you end up staying later than you planned.

  • Sun and bug protection. Sunburns and mosquitoes aren't fun.

  • Shelter. Although you aren't planning to stay out overnight, be prepared. A small lightweight tarp or even a mylar emergency blanket can be a life saver if something happens.

#2: Pack your first aid kit with care

There's no need to bring the the whole medicine cabinet, though. There are small manufactured kits available for hikers. At a minimum, make sure the kit contains a disinfectant, an array of bandages, moleskin patches for blisters, an elastic bandage, and a tick removal tool. Also, include a couple days' worth of any prescription medications, along with a headache or pain reliever. If you have allergies, keep an epipen in the kit. A small first guide is also helpful to ensure you can handle any small emergencies on the trail.

#3: Check in with someone

It's very important that someone back home knows where you are going and at what time you plan to be back. This way they can quickly raise the alarm if you don't check in with them by a pre-agreed time. There are also personal location devices that you can wear, which use satellite relays to inform rescuers where you are located in case you don't return as expected.

#4: Know where the local services are at

Not only do you need to make sure you know where to fill up with gas or replenish your water before hitting the trailhead, also make note of emergency services, such as West Ocean City Injury & Illness Center, are located. Check a map to find the location of the nearest police, fire, or ranger station in the event you need to seek help. It's also a good idea to find out where the closest urgent care facility to the trailhead is located. This way, if you suffer a minor injury while hiking, you can quickly seek help without having to travel the distance back home. Urgent care facilities work well for most minor hiking injuries because they tend to have a short wait period, you don't have to be an existing patient, and they accept most insurance.