Yesterday I blogged about New York personal injury liability for a Park owner’s failure to properly maintain trails and hiking areas, and for failing to place appropriate warnings signs. What sparked off that blog entry was a tragic hiker accident in Letchworth State Park in which a 19-year old hiker fell to his death into the gorge.
Now let’s discuss common sense safety rules for hikers that can prevent many tragedies on the trail. A hiker is, in the first instance, responsible for his or her own safety. A safe hike begins before the hike. Proper preparation and planning, including making a pack list, which should always include: proper clothing, footwear, appropriate gear, a cell phone, a compass, or a gps navigator, plenty of water, food and a first aid kit.
Learn about the area you are hiking ahead of time. Take recent guidebooks and maps of the area with you. Check weather forecasts before you set out. Do not attempt a hiking excursion that is beyond your physical abilities or health limitations. Let friends or family know where you plan on hiking and when you plan on returning. Bring lots of water on a hot day.
Once you are on the trail, obey all signs. Do not drink water from streams, lakes or ponds without boiling it, filtering it, or using purification tablets. Sign in at all sign-in stations (this will assist in tracking you down if you get lost or hurt). If you get lost and need to spend the night in the woods, build a campfire (this will help keep you safe and warm, but will also serve as a signal for searchers to find you).
Keep an eye on the trail where you are walking – trails are not sidewalks – you really do have to watch them, and not just the scenery, as you walk!
Finally, never hike alone.
Be safe and have a good hike!