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    Hiking Safety Rules
    For the hiking enthusiast, each trip is an adventure. For a safe and satisfying excursion, following basic hiking safety rules will assure the trip can be enjoyed without injury or harm. Safety is more than just following through with the basic rules--it also involves wearing and bringing along necessary equipment. Utilizing personal judgment combined with the right tools will help the hiker gain knowledge and experience with each trip.

    Wear Hiking Gear

    When venturing out on a hiking excursion being equipped with the proper hiking gear is essential. Not only will hiking gear be more comfortable to wear than regular clothing, it also adheres to U.S. hiking safety guidelines. Wear hiking boots that are well made for varied terrain, including rocky, grassy, icy and slippery. Backpacks can hold trekking gear, safety items and first aid kits. Choosing a lightweight and compact backpack will keep the weight balanced on the back and provide a breathable base to prevent overheating. Sunglasses and a trek pole will assure extra assistance for navigating through steep terrain. A pair of good sunglasses will keep a hiker safe by keeping visuals sharp to identify potential hazards up ahead.

    Navigation Assistance

    When hiking through any terrain--especially unknown territory--a map is a must have item. The map most widely used for hiking excursions is the topographic map. The topographic map shows contour lines as well as natural and man-made features of the surrounding land and terrain. The topographic map is indispensable for the hiker chartering unfamiliar territory. Even in familiar grounds, a hiker can get easily turned around. The map provides reassurance of direction and where conservation offices and roads are located. A compass is also an important tool to have alongside of a map. The compass will aid in direction to help the map make sense. GPS and navigational systems should be used in back country hiking excursions or trails with rugged terrain. Electronic assistance will help assure the hiker reaches the destination safely.

    Keep Communication Lines Open

    One of the most important rules to follow when hiking is to keep the lines of communication open. Never venturing out alone or unannounced are rules to live by on any hiking trip. For state trails, signing in at the Department of Environmental Conservation or Natural Resources will allow rangers to keep track of a hiker and send out help if needed. A two-way radio or transmitter is a good safety tool to have--especially when hiking through uncertain terrain. Keeping within site distance between hiking partners or groups will assure everyone remains safe.

    Maintain Proper Nutrition

    Because of the physical strain a hike can put on the body, proper nutrition and hydration are very important. A hiker is at extreme risk for dehydration and exhaustion. A healthy trail mix consisting of dried fruit, nuts and berries will keep energy levels up throughout the hike. Drinking above the recommended amount of water per day will assure that fluid levels are kept healthy until completion of the hike. Eating a breakfast high in protein with eggs, lean meat, fruit and juice will give the body a jump start for the excursion.

    Analyze Hidden Dangers

    With any hiking trip there are always hidden dangers. The main thing to be on the lookout for is a change in terrain. Even if the trail or path is familiar, that can change in a matter of hours. Washed out roads, sinkholes and fallen rock are all common in many areas of the United States. Interruption from other hikers and animals can also place trees, rocks and divots along pathways and trails that were not there before. Many animals can put humans at risk or danger when hiking. Scorpions, snakes, bears, cougars, wolverines and wild dogs can pose serious threats. If approached by any wild animal, slowly back away and keep facial and body movements minimal. Do not make direct eye contact, but don't look away either. If traveling where animals may be an issue, be sure to pack mace or pepper spray along with hiking gear.

    Article Written By Julie Boehlke

    Julie Boehlke is a seasoned copywriter and content creator based in the Great Lakes state. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Boehlke has more than 10 years of professional writing experience on topics such as health and wellness, green living, gardening, genealogy, finances, relationships, world travel, golf, outdoors and interior decorating. She has also worked in geriatrics and hospice care.

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