The Santa Barbara County Fire Departmentreminds people that when you’re outside, sometimes far from civilization, you can getinjured or lost. Most people don’t expect that anything could go wrong on a short trip. But often times, even during a day trip through the wilderness, a hiker can becomedisoriented and lose track of their location. It pays to heed some common sense hikingsafety tips.

Don’t travel alone

If you’re just going for a hike in a nearby, well-traveled area, you’re as safe there asanywhere. But if you travel through heavily forested areas, with steep canyons andwinding trails, you can easily get lost or injured.

Traveling with a partner will help you in many ways, especially if he or she is anexperienced hiker. People in pairs are much less likely to panic. They can assist oneanother up steep grades and apply first-aid when needed.He or she can travel back to the trail head if you’re injured. And, if needed, body heat canbe much better conserved when there are two traveling together. Hypothermia has killedmore than one lost or injured hiker before they could be rescued.

Know where you’re going

Stay on clearly marked or well-traveled trails. A map, a compass and/or a GPS unit is amust for any kind of serious hike. A cell phone can also be very useful. Naturally it has to be usable in the area you hike. Not all units will continue to function in every area. Get the details of where you plan to go and ask someone who knows.

Prior to departing for a hike, leave a message with a friend. A note, left with aresponsible person explains your destination, the route you are taking, who is with you,and your return time. If you do not return as planned, the person can give accurateinformation to the authorities. 4410 Cathedral Oaks Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110 MICHAEL W. DYERFIRE CHIEF.

Take some basic gear

For anything more than a simple, two-hour hike over easy terrain, you really have toprepare. Always dress properly. Clothing is your first source of shelter in the wilderness. Carry a space blanket with you, which can be used to keep you warm and protect youagainst elements.

Take a lighter, matches or a flint bar. This will allow you to start a warming fire andavoid hypothermia (use extreme caution when doing this). A knife, especially one withlots of genuinely useful tools can be a helpful. A flashlight is a must. A simple first aid kit can also be a lifesaver. Gauze and bandages, anti-bacterial creamand other standard items are essential. All these things are small and lightweight. No needto take a miniature doctor’s office, just the basics.

Take basic provisions

Water or other fluids like sports drinks are an obvious essential. You can lose a lot offluid on a hot day. Heat stroke is easily preventable. Even dehydration can radicallyreduce physical performance.

Take enough food to last you the anticipated hike time. About 1 lb per day (depending onwhat you bring) is average for a medium-sized male. You can last longer without foodthan water, so trade off when you have to.

Use common sense

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department reminds people that an unexpected injury, achange in the weather or early darkness can turn a hike into an extended crisis. By being prepared and safe, you can enjoy everything that hiking has to offer.


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