Outdoor Recreation: 4 Safety Tips

  • Feb 02, 2017

What is Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor recreation is great for the body, mind and soul. These activities take place outside the confines of buildings and can be both competitive and leisurely.  Competitive outdoor activities include sports like golf, football and lacrosse while hiking, kayaking and horse riding are more leisurely.

Being active outside is a big deal. Most people know that the outdoors is good for us, but there is actually research that backs this claim up. Scientifically, the sun provides us with vitamin D, nature helps ill people recover and negative ions near bodies of water act as natural antidepressants. The outdoors also calms us down and makes us more creative.

What Threats are There?

Activities with so many benefits also have a number of risks. When you’re outdoors, you’re at the risk of the elements. The heat, the cold, lightning and high altitude can cause injury or even death. From 2006 to 2015, lightning killed 313 people in the US alone and almost two-thirds of the deaths occurred to people who were enjoying recreational activities outdoors. The US EPA states that between 1979 and 2010, nearly 8,000 Americans died as a result of heat stroke.

The elements aren’t the only risk. Dangerous animals like bears, snakes and ticks can also stand in your way of enjoying the great outdoors. While the number of injuries and deaths attributed to wild animals is much lower than the elements, it is important to recognize this risk and respect the animals in your area.

4 Tips to Boost Safety

1. Travel with a Buddy

In the case that something goes terribly wrong, you don’t want to be alone. If you’re going somewhere nearby just bringing one other person is enough. However, if you’re traveling to a remote area you should have at least four people in your group. That way, if one of you gets hurt, another can stay with the victim while the other two go for help. Have a buddy at home, too, that has a copy of your itinerary, your license plate number and other useful information that could help in the case of an emergency.

2. Be in Good Physical Condition

Whether you’re playing soccer or going mountain biking you need to be in good physical condition for your activity. That means stretching, training and knowing your limits. For group activities like hiking, set a pace for the weakest member of the group. It also doesn’t hurt to bring an expert along. For example, athletes should have coaches or athletic trainers with the skills to treat injuries and perform CPR. Likewise, mountain bikers should have a support team with water and medical supplies.

3. Wear Appropriate Clothing

This tips seems simple but is often overlooked. The weather and the type of outdoor activity both dictate what type of clothing you should wear. If you’re camping overnight, make sure you have the appropriate clothes for both the daytime temperatures and the nighttime ones. Hikers should always wear sturdy hiking boots and clothes that cover their arms and legs in case they fall or have to climb up steep rocks. Athletes should always consider warmer layers underneath their uniforms if they’re playing in frigid outdoor conditions.

4. Be Weather Wise

Weather wise doesn’t just mean wearing the right clothing. Before your outdoor activity, check the weather. Watch the radar for any nearby or developing storms. It doesn’t hurt to have a lightning detection application on your person as well, so you can seek shelter in the case of lightning. Remember, lightning can strike even in clear skies so it’s important to stay aware of nearby storm systems. If you are caught above the tree line when a storm approaches, descend quickly and avoid isolated trees. It’s also important to drop any metal objects and get off of any bikes, horses and gold carts. Swimmers and others on the water should get to land immediately and move at least 100 yards away from the body of water.