Wilderness safety skills

You lived in the city all your life. Now a new partner, love interest, friend, or coworker challenged you to step outside of your comfort zone to go into the wild. And you are strapping on new hiking boots, stuffed camping and cooking gear into a new backpack and jumping onto the hiking trail. And even though you bought all the stuff you read about, were inspired to by when watching YouTube videos, you are still unsure of what is outside.

The best safety is being aware of your abilities, surroundings, trust your partner and do not fall victim to the five traps that can kill you in the outdoors: Familiarity, Commitment, Expert Halo, Conformity, Scarcity. You will learn more about this in our coming soon YouTube videos. And book us to learn more in one of our virtual classes.

Traps to safety

I give credit to an old issue of Backpacker Magazine (May 2009) on simplifying the traps of safety. If you cannot find an old issue at your public library or online you can follow a link to my old website where I adapted the commonsense skills to a paddling environment. “Paddlers sometimes take avoidable risks: kayak safety”

5 safety traps

  • Trap: Familiarity
    • I visit here all the time and I have never had an issue, so I am not going to inconvenience myself by taking extra stuff
    • Look at every time outside with fresh eyes. If you are tempted to be relaxed with safety, answer this question. “What is the worst thing that could happen?”
  • Trap: Commitment
    • Looks like a storm is coming, but the weather report said it would be a calm day; anyway, I told everyone I would be on the trail, or paddilng until the end of the day. I cannot stop early and make camp.
    • It is good to stick to a float plan, as long as; safety is the foundation of your plan. Your float plan should also have a plan on what you are going to do if weather conditions change. If you donot know what a float plan is… check this link out. A future post will have unique safety plans for on the water and trail.
  • Trap: Expert Halo
    • I am not sure we are going the right way, but they are a better at navigation than I am.  I do not need to check my navigational chart, map, or mobile phone GPS app; they are probably right.
    • Remember that guides and your friends can make mistakes.  Polity discuss your concerns and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.  Always commit to making decisions together.  When you are unsure about your partner’s reasoning respectfully ask for a clear explanation.  And never be afraid to suggest an alternate plan.
  • Trap: Conformity
    • Everyone else is excited to paddle down this rapid, scramble up that ravine, et cetera… so I should be fine.
    • “If you feel uncomfortable, there is probably a valid reason.”  Speak up – there probably is someone else in the group that feels as you do.  When safety issues arise, seek everyone’s opinion, choose the safe path, and always trust your gut.
  • Trap: Scarcity
    • The forecast calls for a hurricane, but this is my only time for a trip this year because I have taken time off from work.  I cannot reschedule.  The weather will be fine.
    • Prepare an alternate trip location that has less of a chance to be influenced by severe weather.  There is always a better choice than paddling into a predicted severe weather or being stuck on a trail with no evacuation option.

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