We all have that urge to get out on the trail but sometimes we put our desire to get hiking before planning and our own safety. Telling someone where you are going and leaving them a copy of your plans is an important part of keeping yourself safe on the trail and that's why we are going to run through the basics of how to best do this.
Why tell someone before you go?
There are a multitude of reasons you should tell someone before you set off on your next hiking adventure. If you get lost or injured out on the trail getting help can be hard and this is only made harder when nobody knows you are gone.
When you tell someone where you are going and when you are returning they can call for help if they suspect something is wrong or they don't hear from you after you were meant to return. This small act of telling someone before you leave may not take very long but can save your life when you are faced with a dangerous situation.
Who should I tell?
You want the person(s) you tell before you set off for your hike to be people you can trust, this can be friends, family or someone else you trust and rely on. You want to make sure they understand the information you hand them because in an emergency it can help locate you and allow rescuers to get to you quicker than they otherwise would.
Other great people to tell before you set off is the local park rangers, make sure they know when you are going to be hiking and give them all the details they need. This is best done at least a week before you set off rather than when you arrive as there may be more information you need to provide to them that you simply don't have ready to give.
So what do I tell people before I go?
Well there are quite a few things that are important to tell people before you go. These things all centre around planning and that is what is key when it comes to keeping safe on the trail. These things include but certainly are not limited to:
Where you are going (including campsites)
When you are going
How long you will be gone
General hike details (Distance, grade, style, contingencies)
When to call for help (set a time after they haven’t heard from you)
A copy of your gear list
A copy of your food provisions
A map of the location you are hiking
Group members and contacts (if hiking with others)
Giving detailed plans to those who will be remaining at home can help emergency services better understand how long you can survive in the bush with the food and gear you have. It also helps them better understand where they are likely to find you and why you might have gone missing.
Some tips for keeping safe
There are certain things you can do to make hiking safer, changing the way you hike and what you carry can drastically change the chances of you being put in danger or getting lost. Some of these things include:
Hiking in a group
Carrying a PLB or EPERB
Carrying the correct gear for where you are going
Hiking within your skill level
Having experience with navigation
Know where water is on your hike
Carrying a first-aid kit (knowing how to use it)
These things are just a few of the many different things you can do to help keep yourself and anyone hiking with you safe. Having experience equivalent with the hike you are undertaking is a highly recommended as failing to have the skills required for a trail you are walking could put you and the people hiking with you in unnecessary danger.
No matter how long your hike is, it is always best to tell someone before you leave because you simply never know what could happen while you are walking. So next time you hike, tell someone you trust before you leave for your own safety above anything else.
Written by Josh Welch