Introduction to Hiking Safety

Hiking, like any sport, can be dangerous.

As you prepare for your next hiking excursion, don't forget these two simple rules.


  1. Be Prepared
  2. Don't Panic

Be Prepared

This first rule has two parts:

  1. Avoid danger
  2. Be prepared in case of an emergency

Be aware of potential dangers that exist while hiking and know how best to avoid them. In addition, be preemptive and ready for an emergency before it happens--have an action plan.

The Seven W's of Hiking Safety

What dangers should you prepare for? Following are seven potential dangers to be aware of when hiking.

1. Weather

Weather conditions can change rapidly and bring with them unique challenges. Know what to expect and prepare accordingly.

2. Watch Your Step

Unstable terrain can be a dangerous component in any environment. It's always a good idea to watch your footing.

3. Which Way?

One of the most common dangers in hiking is becoming lost. Carry a map and learn to use a compass.

4. Weariness

Hiking can be strenuous exercise. Each person has unique fitness levels and health concerns, so consider carefully your physical limits and advantages and find the hike that's right for you.

5. Wildlife

When we step into the forest, we enter an enchanting world of intriguing plants and animals, but every plant and animal is wild. Observe each with caution and respect. Some wildlife can be a threat to human health and safety.

6. Water

Untreated water from open water sources such as lakes, ponds, streams and springs may not be safe to drink.

7. Wildfires

One of the greatest dangers to our natural habitat is also an extreme danger for hikers.

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