3 keys to safety in the Great Outdoors

It’s officially summer, and the warmth and sun are drawing us outdoors. Combine that with the plentiful outdoor opportunities the Chattanooga region has to offer, and you have the perfect match for fun.

But before you head outdoors for an adventure, whether it’s a hike around Raccoon Mountain or tubing on the Ocoee River, make sure you brush up on your outdoor safety knowledge. After all, you want to you keep yourself and your loved ones at your best for your next adventure!

Let’s explore three keys to staying safe on your next outdoor adventure.

  • Pair up. While it can be tempting to spend a free hour with only your thoughts as company, it can also be dangerous. You don’t want to be by yourself if an emergency occurs.

The U.S. Forest Service recommends several steps to protect yourself. First, venture out with at least one other person. If you’re headed into a remote area, your group should ideally include at least four people, so that two can go for help and one person can remain with the person who’s injured or ill.

Before heading out on a hike, bike ride or other activity, tell someone who isn’t going with you where you’re going and let him or her know when you’re leaving and when to expect you back.

It’s also a good idea to locate the nearest telephone — or cell phone service area — to where you’re going, in case you need to phone for help.

  • Know basic first aid. You don’t have to be a medical expert, but you should have some level of basic knowledge.

One key essential? Be sure to take a first-aid kit with you. This kit often contains a booklet of information about caring for injury or illness.

Don’t rely solely on that booklet, though. You should know the symptoms of conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke and dehydration, as well as what to do if any of them occurs.

It’s also important to know how to care for an injury until you can seek medical attention.

  • Wise up to the weather. If you’ve lived in Chattanooga for any length of time, you know that our weather can change in an instant.

The sunny, warm weather that was present when you started your hike may turn into stormy, cool weather midway through. Prepare for potential changes by layering your clothing and including a layer that is wind- and waterproof.

It’s important to check out the weather forecast before you head outside and to keep an eye on what the weather is doing as you adventure.

Know what to do in case of inclement weather. In particular, you’ll want to know how to handle a storm — and how to protect yourself from lightning. If you’re caught outdoors during a lightning storm, you’ll want to hunker down in an area with dense tree covering at a low elevation. Avoid single trees, bodies of water, rocks and exposed areas.

Before you gear up for outdoor workouts — or a new exercise routine of any sort — talk with your doctor about whether the activity is right for you. Don’t have a doctor? Find one here.