CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A towel and a piece of aluminum foil might not seem like lifesaving equipment, but in a hiking emergency, they could be.
Before you go hiking, taking a few extra precautions could make all the difference. Here are some tips to ensure you return safely from your adventures.
Aluminum foil trick
The West Virginia K-9 Search and Rescue team recently shared this hack on their Facebook page. Before you go hiking, leave a print of your shoes in your car so someone can follow your tracks in case you go missing or get lost.
To do this, lay a towel on the floor, then place a piece of foil over it. Climb on it with your hiking shoe or any shoe you will wear on your adventure. It will make a clean imprint of the bottom of your shoe to leave in your car or camping.
Parents, you can also use this trick with your kids’ shoes before any outdoor activity, in case they get lost or misplaced.
“Whether you are planning a short trip, a day hike or [weeklong] adventure, this trick will help trained SAR [search and rescue] teams focus on the right leads if you get lost,” the post read.
While it doesn’t always work in dry conditions, taking this quick precaution before long rides could be the reason you’ll be saved in an emergency.
Here are some other tips everyone should follow to stay safe on hikes and outdoor adventures:
- Tell someone. As great as an impulsive hike alone may sound, it can be extremely dangerous. A foil print isn’t going to help if no one knows where your car is. When you go into the woods, especially alone, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. This is especially important in areas where cell phone service is unreliable. Before heading into the woods, simply tell someone you trust where you’re starting from and text them when you get back to your car or call them when you get home.
- Map up. We know, this one is obvious. But sometimes, on shorter, spontaneous hikes, no one takes the time to ask themselves, “How am I going to get back?” If you are doing a short day hike, be sure to take a picture of the trail map on your phone or find it and take a screenshot in case you lose service. And for longer journeys, bring a paper map. Be sure to also bring navigation equipment on longer hikes. a compass really could be the difference between a fun adventure and a terrifying night in the woods.
- Bring waterr. Another seemingly obvious tip: bring water, no matter how long your hike. For longer hikes, bring a snack as well. You don’t want low blood sugar to be the reason you don’t go home.
The National Park Service has lists of additional safety precautions and things you should consider packing on your hike.
“The outdoors is no place to attempt a maneuver just to see if you can do it,” says the West Virginia Department of Transportation.