Hiking tips

5 safety tips for outdoor adventures

If your upcoming travel plans include outdoor adventures, make sure your family’s skills, gear, and information are up to date. Here are five ideas to consider:

Don’t let the lightning strike

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 400 people are struck by lightning each year in the United States. Teach children that “when thunder rolls, come inside”. When planning an activity, have a safety plan and know where you will be in the event of a storm. Watch for darkening skies, lightning and changing and strengthening wind patterns. If you hear thunder even from a distance, it’s time to move to a sturdy building or metal hardtop vehicle with the windows rolled up, advises NOAA. Stay away from tall, lonely trees, utility poles, or open areas. Avoid wires and metal fences. Wait 30 minutes after the last thunderclap to exit. If someone is struck by lightning, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.

For more information: weather.gov/nwr

Learn more about cougars

Cougar attacks on humans are rare. However, in recent times, the interactions have multiplied. Experts believe this change is due, in part, to humans moving closer to lions’ habitat, an increase in populations of deer (their prey) and more hikers, bikers and runners sharing trails with lions.

If you’re venturing into lion country, experts recommend exploring in a group and making lots of noise to avoid a surprise. Carry a cane and keep children close to you at all times. In case of encounter, do not run. Stay calm. Pick up the kids and speak firmly while slowly walking away. Do whatever you can to gain momentum, raise your arms, open a coat without blocking a lion’s escape route. If the lion acts aggressively, retaliate with rocks, sticks, or whatever you can find without bending down or turning its back.

For more information: http://www.mountainlion.org/

The intelligence of the snake

Hiking, climbing, and camping in many parts of the country means an encounter with a snake is possible. Make sure children know to avoid anything that looks like a snake. According to the University of Arizona Poisons and Drugs Information Center, more than half of those bitten intentionally provoked the snake in some way. Stay on hiking trails and keep hands and feet clear of piles of wood and rocks, deep grass or crevices. Pack a flashlight and wear shoes after dark. “Time is a fabric”, say the experts. So if a bite does occur, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.