Tips for Staying Safe and Healthy in the Great Outdoors
Montana is famed for the extensive open spaces and wild areas within its borders, and with good reason. It’s a state made for outdoor pursuits, and the opportunities to walk, camp, hike, and otherwise explore are popular not just with residents but increasing numbers of tourists too.
While the countryside is an amazing, inviting, and predominantly safe place, there are inevitable risks associated with taking part in outdoor activities. Most of these risks can be reduced or eliminated entirely if you follow safe practices and take the necessary precautions during your trip. Here are some top tips for staying safe and well when you’re enjoying Montana’s fantastic natural environment.
1) Make sure you’re well enough to take part in your planned activity. If you’re feeling under the weather, setting out on a weekend hiking trip will not only drain you and not be much fun, but you could make yourself sicker. Pushing yourself too hard physically when you have a cold or chest infection could lead to more serious conditions, such as pleurisy and pneumonia for example.
2) Make sure you’re fit enough to take part in your planned activity. Some of the outdoor challenges you can take on are physically demanding, and if you aren’t fit enough to cope, you won’t enjoy the experience and could end up with an injury or become seriously exhausted. In the months leading up to your trip, you should work on building your fitness levels so that you have the strength and stamina to not only manage the challenge you’ve set yourself but enjoy it to the full.
3) Get the right footwear. Heading off into the mountains for a three-day trek wearing a regular pair of sneakers is asking for trouble. They may feel comfortable when you’re out for a stroll at home, but if you’re doing a serious walk, you need proper hiking boots if you want to avoid blisters and sore feet. Make sure you get them well in advance of your trip so you can break them in – they’ll be stiff to start with, so you need to soften up the materials and get used to walking in the boots.
4) Take food and drink. You should always carry water and high energy snacks with you to ensure you stay hydrated, and provide some nutrition if you get delayed or lost. Even a short foray into the wilderness could result in a fall or injury, and you may take a wrong turning at some point that extends the time you’re out.
5) Wear the appropriate clothing. You need materials that won’t rub when you’re moving, aren’t too constrictive, and protect you from the elements. Breathable fabrics are best so that sweat is wicked away from your body, otherwise you could get soaked through on a hot day. Comfort and safety are the key features your clothes need to possess, and you can be sure that if you don’t wear the right clothing your trip will be far less enjoyable.
6) If you’re using a backpack, make sure it’s a well-made one that isn’t going to dig into your back and shoulders. An uncomfortable backpack can easily ruin your enjoyment of the experience, so get the best quality pack you can afford, and fill it correctly with soft items like waterproofs and spare sweaters and socks at the bottom, and heavier items at the top so the weight is optimally distributed.
7) Maps or map apps are essential. Many people prefer to use smartphone apps to following a map, and they are extremely useful, especially if you’re new to outdoor pursuits. However, it’s a good idea to pack a compact map of the area just in case your phone battery dies or loses the GPS signal (you can get apps that work without needing a signal or internet connection, which are much better for use in the country; however, you’d still need a map if your phone battery died).
Take essential safety equipment. You’ll usually find that the National Park services or the bodies responsible for the area you’re exploring provide a list of recommended supplies that you should take with you. The list may vary according to where you are, but basic items include:
Emergency blankets: silver foil insulators for keeping sick or injured members of your party warm.
Glucose tablets: emergency high energy supplements for anyone feeling faint or weak.
First aid kit: compact kit including antiseptic wipes and cream, plasters, dressings, bandages, scissors, and antihistamine in case of an allergic reaction.
Whistle to alert rescue services to your location.
Penknife or similar multipurpose tool.
You should also take tissues and toilet paper in case they’re needed.
Preparing for your trip
When you’re getting ready for your trip, make sure you’ve read all the literature relevant to the place you’re visiting and the activity you plan to take part in. Check you’ve got all the supplies you need, and make sure your cell phone and any other electronic devices you plan to take are fully charged.
If financing the purchase of good quality supplies is a problem, have a look at the options available from credit brokers such as Bonsai Finance for borrowing enough to cover the expenditure. You might be surprised at the range of options available to people in all types of financial situations, including unemployment, and at far better rates than high-interest credit cards.
If you’re tempted to cut corners with your equipment, think again. There’s no point going to all the effort of arranging a trip or excursion if you’re going to be miserable because you’re too hot or cold, or your feet hurt. It’s worth spending extra on good quality equipment and clothing that will keep you comfortable and safe, and you should never scrimp on safety supplies, as you could run into serious trouble if you do.
You can have the best experiences of your life in the varied and beautiful landscapes of Montana; just make sure you keep safe and well, so you can enjoy your adventure to the full.