My husband and I love to play in the outdoors – snow or shine. And although we have had many amazing adventures over the past few years, the numerous avalanche fatalities, hiking accidents, and animal attacks this year have been a constant reminder of the inherent dangers of backcountry adventures. So although I am no expert on ‘adventure safety’ here are some things I keep in mind in hopes of ensuring safe homecomings after any outdoor play date.
Invest in good equipment – My husband is a serious gear-head. If you have a question on outdoor or technical gear he is your man. And like true technology early-adaptors (not the people that just want to have the new i-Toy just because it’s new and “cool”) his love of gear stems from a passion to see innovation developed with a purpose.
How does this new piece of equipment make my life easier and/or how does it make my adventures safer? When you plan your outdoor adventures do your research on your equipment and make good investments based on features such as durability and safety. If it looks good – consider it a bonus, not your primary purchasing point.
Know your abilities – And the abilities of those with you. Many adventures involve multi-level company – even when just Jake and I go out, our abilities can vary. It’s important to be in tune with your physical abilities and plan your trips accordingly. Knowing what you can and can’t do can also help prevent potentially dangerous situations. Sure one or all of you may have to skip out on something epic, but at least you will all make it home.
Know your environment – If you are venturing into a new place, take time in your planning process to know the terrain, possible weather, potential animal encounters and any recent incidents in the area. With this information, you’ll be able to pack and prepare accordingly and travel with at least some sense of meaning.
Make the safety list and check it twice – If you are an avid outdoor enthusiast, then many of these things are second nature. But whether you’re an expert or just getting into a new outdoor sport, simple safety precautions can be overlooked. Did you tell someone exactly when and where you are going and when they can expect to hear from you upon your return? Did you pack all the necessary equipment? Bear spray, first aid kit, ect., ect.? Having a mental safety list is great – taking the time to build a real one is even better.
Trust your instincts…and channel your mother’s if you can – Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your mother proud?” Consider this a similar bit of advice. Use sound judgment when playing in the outdoors and trust your gut feeling if it warns of danger. If you follow this advice, your travels can be good and fun. Also when you have a full-time job, you still can find plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors!
Obviously, this is not a fool-proof, get out of jail free pass for outdoor adventures. But I do think it’s important that those of us who play in the elements to take some time periodically to remember the dangers that exist and take the necessary precautions to ensure an amazing and safe experience. It’s not just the outdoors that we love. Check also this interesting post about how taking nature hikes through a city can be an inspiring adventure.