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Hiking Hazards to be Aware of and How to Avoid Them

May 02, 2018

Hiking hazards to be aware of and how to avoid them. Visit idhikethat.com and learn how to protect yourself.

No matter what season it may be or where you live, hiking hazards always exist. 

All hikers, both avid and newbies alike, should be mindful of possible hazards that could occur on the trails.

Depending on where you live, some of these hazards may be more or less likely to occur.  However, it is important to know about the potential threats that can happen while hiking.  You never know, you may go hiking out of town where certain hazards are more of a possibility.

Look out for these hazards on your hiking adventures:

  • Stings, bites, and poisonous plants.  

Insect stings can hurt!  If you are allergic, make sure you always carry your medication with you on your hikes, and be sure someone with you knows how to administer it.  Did you know there are certain colors bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets like?  Avoid wearing black, red, and blue colors.  

Although venomous snake bites are rare, they can happen.  If you see a snake, do not sneak up to it.  Rather, keep a reasonable distance from it.

Poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac can all cause rashes and itchiness.  Learn how to identify these plants to protect your body from a harmful reaction.

  • Dehydration.

Staying hydrated is so important for every human being, especially while hiking.  According to The Dayhiker's Handbook, the average human must consume a minimum of 3 quarts of water per day up to 12,000 feet, and up to 10 quarts above 12,000 feet.  Remember, you will need to increase your water intake during hot/unshaded hikes, as well as hiking at altitude.   

  • Blisters.

It's important to know how to properly care for your feet on the trails.  Invest in some high-quality, comfortable hiking socks to avoid getting blisters.  Many hikers like to wear two socks for added a protection, a thin pair underneath, and their hiking socks on top.  Carry along some moleskin just in case you need it.

  • Altitude sickness.

Acute mountain sickness occurs when elevation is quickly gained over a short period of time.  This can be very serious for hikers visiting mountains from states with lower elevations.  The best tip for preventing Acute Mountain Sickness is to give the body 24 hours to acclimate to the higher elevation, especially if the elevation increase is upwards of 5000 feet higher than one's typical elevation.  Symptoms to watch out for include nausea, fatigue, dizziness, headache, and shortness of breath.

  • Heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion can be a cause of dehydration and exposure to the hot sun.  Someone with heat exhaustion may experience, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, tiredness, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, and/or pale and clammy skin.  If you or someone in your group is experiencing heat exhaustion, put them in a cool, shady location, and encourage them to drink water.

A heat stroke is much more serious and requires quick medical attention, as their body's core temperature rises dramatically to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.  Someone experiencing a heat stroke will have increased heart rate/rapid pulse, dehydration, hot, sweaty, red skin, and/or confusion and disorientation.  

  • Hypothermia.

The best way to prevent hypothermia is to avoid wearing cotton.  Synthetic clothing or moisture-wicking fabric like merino wool is a hiker's best friend as this will help you stay warm and dry.  

Remember to keep these hazards in mind when you go hiking, and be ready to prevent them from happening to you.

What other dangers could one encounter while hiking?  We would love for you to share with us.


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