Ten Essentials & Safety
I’ve been thinking a lot about safety lately. With the wildfires in Utah, and the news story of the hikers who got stuck on a short trail when they hiked to a waterfall, and the hiker last fall in the Smokies who got lost on a short hike and died, it reinforced the importance of spreading the knowledge of the ten essentials.
The Ten Essentials.
It sounds complicated. Like something you only need if you’re going deep in the wilderness, miles away from civilization, right? Or just for those Scouts really roughing it.
Wrong. Emergencies can happen ANYWHERE. Some of the hikers in Utah that got stranded were on an easy 1.9 mile hike. A trail many people hike with no supplies except a bottle of water and maybe a snack. The hikers that got stranded, however, ended up having to spend the night on the trail and hike out on a different path, all with no essentials.
Here are the Ten Essential items you should be carrying with you on hikes, and some of my tips:
Navigation (map and compass)
A trail map- we always stop at the visitor’s center at the parks we visit to pick up a trail map. I also take a picture of the maps provided on the trails just in case.
A compass is great, but only if you know how to use it. Check out these tips from the American Hiking Society on the basics. NOLS also offers great classes for more in depth work.
Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
A sun hat for your kids is also a great addition.
Insulation (extra clothing)
A light jacket if the nights get chilly, rain or wind breaker if you’re in the mountains and storms can roll in quickly.
and make sure it has working batteries!
Lots of band aids-especially if your kids go through band aids like mine do, tweezers for splinters, antibiotic cream, an epi-pen if you have anyone in the family who requires one, bug spray
Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
We always have one of these waterproof match holders in every pack we have and an extra in the car. Lightweight and waterproof!
Repair kit and tools
A knife and a strip of duct tape- wrapped around a hiking pole or water bottle are two things that are often recommended. You can fix a pair of broken shoes, broken glasses, etc with a small piece of duct tape. A small length of paracord is handy, too, in case you need to make a shelter, or make an impromptu shoelace.
Nutrition (extra food)
Self explanatory- but snacks are important, especially if you have kids! Definitely necessary in an emergency situation, but necessary in general, too. Nothing motivates and distracts kids away from their boredom or whinyness than food, so pack some extra granola bars or applesauce pouches. For hiking, I stock up on prepackaged snacks we don’t purchase a lot, to make them special- lara bars, zbars, fig bars. We also always have a couple of these in our packs- Yummy Earth organic suckers. Nothing motivates my kids back to the car like the promise of a sucker. We don’t use them EVERY hike, but they’re good to have on hand, and are a great boost when you or your kids need it.
Hydration (extra water)
Water is a necessity for all our hikes, but a small water filter is also a good idea. We have a few of these very lightweight and easy to use Lifestraws-you just dip it into water and drink through the filter like a straw. Sawyer Minis are another really good option.
This sounds complicated, but isn’t. A large tarp, a simple garbage bag, or one of these emergency blankets could provide a bit of warmth and shelter from rain if you needed it. I also recommend a whistle for every person in your family. Teach your kids to use them if they ever get separated from you. Many packs have them build into the straps, but I also recommend these. They don’t have a ball or pea, which can break or jam and render the whistle unusable.
Please don’t let these tips deter you from getting your kids outside and on a hike! It’s just like I have been telling my kids- I want you to be prepared. Better safe than sorry.
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