Hiking: Surprising Survival Tips that Can Save Your Life

You'd be surprised how some everyday items can be the difference between life and death
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Spending time in the wilderness is one of the best ways to cope better with stress, feel happier and have more self-esteem, according to science. But connecting with nature is a challenging journey, which can become deadly if you don’t know how to handle Mother Nature.

Encountering bears or lions is, realistically speaking, a rare event, Dr. Gregory A. Miller, president of the American Hiking Society says. But changing weather, miscalculation of daylight, starvation, dehydration, germs, blisters or hypothermia are not.

Knowing a few survival tips in case you find yourself in a dangerous situation is highly recommended before you head out to the mountain. Don’t think “it can’t happen to you.”

Socks

Let’s say you planned a short hike and that’s why you didn’t bring an extra jacket, water or a hunting weapon. One single sock can be of use. “This is one emergency tool you can always count on having,” according to Backpacker.com. Socks can serve as gloves; you can fill a sock with mud or wet clay, then wring out every drop of moisture and you have water; you can use socks to dress a wound; or put them over your boots for some traction to prevent slipping. Put rocks in socks and you have a weapon.

Food

You may have heard that all black and blue berries are safe to eat, but this is not true. A common rule of thumb is that nearly all white and yellow berries are toxic, about half of red berries are poisonous, and most blue and black berries are safe to eat.

Use fire as signal

Start a fire to keep warm but add green wood to the flames. This is will increase the amount of smoke, increasing the possibility of someone seeing it.

Water

You know you should clean water from lakes and rivers before you drink it either by boiling it or using purification tablets. However, you can also find H2O in trees. Wherever you find banana or plantain trees, you can get water, according to Discovery. “Cut down the tree, leaving about a 30-centimeter stump and scoop out the center of the stump so that the hollow is bowl-shaped. Water from the roots will immediately start to fill the hollow.”

Bandana

You can use a bandana for protection from the sun and to keep your head warm when there is a chill. But did you know you can use it to filter the air? If you get stranded for several days, nights can be freezing. You don’t want to breathe the cold, and possibly, dusty air.

Garbage bags

They can be a great way to stay warm. If you can’t bring extra clothes, at least bring heavy duty plastic bags to wrap around you if it gets too cold. One advantage over clothes – garbage bags will keep you dry.

Shoe laces

You know you have to start a fire but you don’t have paper or any dry wood around. Look at your feet. Shoe laces will do the trick. If you don’t want to bring an extra pair of boots, at least bring several shoe laces with you. They won’t take much room in your bag.

Tell other where you’re going

You’ve seen “127 Hours,” right? Tell people where you plan to hike even if it’s for a couple of hours. “This is especially prevalent with people who think they are just taking a ‘short hike’ and it is silly to tell someone where they are going,” Miller says. “With hiking, common sense and preparation are essential to have an enjoyable, trouble-free hike. Sometimes, more thought is put into preparing to go shopping at the mall than hitting the trail.”

Survival kit must-haves

The items in a survival kit don’t change depending on the time you’re going hiking for. The American Hiking Society ‘s guidelines include: appropriate footwear; map and compass/GPS; extra water and a way to purify it; extra food; rain gear and extra clothing; safety items for fire (matches), light, and a whistle; first aid kit; knife or multi-purpose tool; sunscreen and sun glasses; and daypack/backpack.

More readings: 

Best Hiking Boots

Hiking Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

15 Survival Myths that Could Actually Kill You

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