Is hiking dangerous?
Yes, hiking can be dangerous in many ways, but in most cases, the risk is not life-threatening but still, there are other several medical and physical risks involved in hiking. If you prepare and gain all mandatory knowledge before hiking the trail the risk is almost reduced to none. Let’s know the risks associated with hiking and you can tackle them easily by just keeping yourself informed and aware.
What are the dangers of hiking?
There are several types of risks involved in hiking like medical, crime, and other nature forcing risks but let’s first start with medical risks.
Medical Risks associated with hiking
- According to the National Library of Medicine, a survey is done in 19997 of 270 backpackers which showed that the most common medical reasons that ended the hikes are diarrhea, skin irritation, foot blisters, and pain in muscles. The vector-borne disease is also the most common which is founded in 4% of backpackers.
- The other risks that are common in hiking involve snake bites, insect bites. The tick bite is found to be the most common insect bite which causes Lyme disease. The risk associated with tick bites is small but it can give you diseases that can become risky if not taken care of. For more information on tick bites read – How to Avoid Ticks While Hiking
- Slip-offs and imbalance on rocky trails cause a lot of injuries every season, to tackle this situation you should have the proper knowledge of sprays and gear, which we will discuss below in this article.
Uncommon dangers associated with hiking
- Lost while hiking. This is also the most common situation that usually happens with beginners.
- Dehydration and heat exhaustion are common but usually occur because of our lack of awareness on the topic.
- Robberies and injuries are some other uncommon risks associated with hiking.
- the uncontrollable sudden occurrence of floods, lightning, and fires can get you trapped in one location.
How to make a dangerous hike an achievable hike?
Get good Research on trail
Get good information about the weather on the trail. It is cold, hot, about storms and lightning. Never make your decision on the current weather situation, search weather forecast. If it signals any storms or snowfall then you should rethink your plans. If the forecast is just signaling just a few raindrops then there is no worry, just carry the required gear and you are ok.
If you are in the middle of your hike then, look for sudden darkness in clouds and an increase in winds, it is a sign that an electric storm is approaching. If the weather is very bad and remains so then you need to cancel the hike because adverse weather can cause hypothermia, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
ALways know before hiking does trail have water and emergency panic button or apps in case you lost all signals. In case the weather is extreme then make sure to stay in one place and one group, avoid too many movements or if there is a shelter nearby you then go there.
get the map and route of the trail. incase you never used the map before, then first learn it because GPS does not provide full reliability on trails, because of battery issues and signals. in case you are traveling with your friends make sure you and your friends have a separate copy of the map.
Before getting prepared first you should know the length and difficulty of the trail. If you are a beginner avoid trails with high uphill and rocky climbing.
Know if the trail favors wilderness. If the trail favor wilderness then walks every step alertly by walking in a group. Stay calm if any worse situation occurs. Or if you are hiking alone always tell someone before you begin your hike and do tell them to take action if the time surpasses the limit you gave them.
Get good information about the surface of the trail and don’t forget to know about plants because there are a lot of poisonous plants that you should avoid touching on the trail.
Gear guide to reducing the danger on hike
The most important gear for hiking is waterproof clothing. Always carry waterproof clothing with you. Wear double or triple layers of clothing and keep the waterproof cloth as an outer layer.
Avoid clothes made of cotton, linen, or other fabrics that absorb moisture. Instead, go with wool or polyester blend clothes to block the moisture and cold wind. You can also go with a cotton and polyester blend option in summers.
This is a very important factor that can reduce the risk of insects bite, snake bites on trails. Not only that the perfect shoes can prevent the sudden fall down on slippery trails. Choose the good hiking boots with good soal material, avoid wearing any shoes below your ankle-length because exposed body parts on trails like where bites and insects are common can cause danger for you on the hike.
Carry headlamps with you, especially if the day sunlight is less on the trail or if you are hiking in winters. Headlamps help you to continue your journey at night without getting lost on the trail.
These are other backpacking material that is important but that is for a facility not for risk management.
Get medical checkup
- before hiking make sure you are medically fit to climb or walk on high-altitude trails. You should not have any disease, heart problem, or breathing problem if you are planning to hike. avoid hiking if you panic quickly because it is common on trails.
- Keep Checking on your partner’s health throughout the journey. Never push yourself and members of your group hard this unlikely can cause breathing problems, muscle strains, and injury in most cases. Instead, take regular breaks to find the breath and to reduce the muscle tightness.
Maintaining hygiene is super important
- When hiking the reason why a lot of people get diarrhea is because of unhygienic drinking water. Before drinking water make sure it is purified, only drink water if it is bottled, boiled, chemically purified, or filtered water. Avoid drinking water directly from ponds or rivers directly if you are thirsty, If you are out of water make sure first you boil and then drink. If you have any plastic water bottle make sure to keep the cap tight.
- Along with drinking water keep check on your food hygiene. Wash your hands with biodegradable soap on trails before eating anything because you don’t know what venomous plant or insect you have touched. Keep the place clean where you eat and use the good water for cooking the food.
Deal with Venomous Animal Bites
- While there are many insects present on trails that reflect no danger but there are some venomous animals on the trail that are dangerous. The first rule to avoid bites is to avoid touching or picking insects or snakes in your hand because most of the cases regarding trail bites have happened when someone picked or poked the insects or reptiles. Avoid long grasses or contact with leaves because these are homes of tick bites and reptiles, always walk in the middle of the trail for safety.
Important: If any venomous animal bite happens, first stay calm and put a bandage on the spot. Avoid washing the spot with water or anything because it will remove the venomous and makes it difficult for doctors to identify the bite of the particular animal. After that call for an emergency helpline as quick as possible.
Note: in case your partner or member of the group is injured or bitten by any animal, first put a bandage on the spot, see if the bleeding stops in few minutes, check the breathing and behavior of the person. If the bleeding or behavior of the person does not seem common in any way then call the helpline or emergency no.
Deal with crime calmly
- Secure your vehicle in the parking lot by locking it properly.
- Avoid bringing huge cash or important cards with you on trail
- Never reveal everything you have in front of people.
- In case you encountered thieves, stay calm, and give them what they ask for, don’t underestimate anyone because such a situation can lead to huge violent action.
Some basics to avoid danger hiking
Travel with the group on long trails
If you are going for a multiday backpacking trip then make sure you are not alone. Go with 4 or 5 other people because this way you will reduce the risk o danger comes with hiking. First, the group gives you authority in case anyone gets injured. IT also reduces the crime probability which is high if you are traveling alone.