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Woodland Safety Summer 2024

Woodland Safety Summer 2024


By Chris Petry

Summertime is outdoor time. While most of us will probably spend that time lying on a beach with a never-ending stream of cocktails, some of us will prefer to journey into the wild untamed wilderness to reclaim our place in nature. Okay, let’s be honest, most of us will never step off the gravel of a half-mile loop at the local park but that doesn’t mean there’s no danger on the track! Mosquitos, spiders, ticks, rattlesnakes, a 5% battery warning on your iPhone… you name it! So today, we’re going to list some of the basic survival tips you can utilize to ensure your time outdoors is as fun and safe as possible.

Dress for the Woods. Yes, it’s summer. It’s hot outside. Still, flip-flops, shorts, and short sleeves are not the best choices for navigating the thick underbrush of the forest. Why? Well, let’s start with footwear. You’ll be navigating uneven, rocky, tree root-lined, steep and sometimes wet terrain. If you’re not wearing something with a good tread and some level of waterproofing, you’re going to have a bad time. A good pair of anti-fatigue hiking boots are going to be your best friend if you expect to spend the day tromping around the wilderness. Shorts and short sleeves may be fine in wide open spaces but on tight trails where you routinely brush against the native vegetation, they’re probably not the safest option. An extra barrier between said vegetation and your skin means you’re less likely to experience the wrath of a jagger bush or become exposed to things like poison ivy, poison oak, or sumac. It’s also an added layer of protection from bees, spiders, ticks and other things that scratch or bite. It’s best to wear thin soft fabrics like cotton and poplin that provide extra protection from the environment without retaining much heat. Another option is the use of a sprays, which have shown some effectiveness in preventing tick bites and skin irritation associated with poisonous plants.

Bring Essential Supplies.
No matter whether you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail or simply going in for a day hike, you should NEVER be without basic necessities like water, a folding knife (for first aid, crafting a makeshift shelter, marking trails and protection), basic first-aid supplies (band aids, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape), a compass (in case you become lost), a flashlight (if you’re out at night) and a map if possible. You definitely need to remain hydrated. Just how much water should you take along on your hike? According to this article, you should set aside 1 liter of water for every 2 miles on your trip.

Always tell someone where you’re going!
If you intend to go into the woods, especially if you’re alone, it’s a great idea to send a quick text to friends or family alerting them of the area you’re expected to be in that day. A lot of trailheads not only include pertinent literature such as maps but write-in boxes where you can alert forest rangers of your presence on the land. If there’s an accident or medical emergency or you become lost, pre-alerting folks of your approximate location greatly increases the likelihood you’ll get the timely assistance you need. Since we all carry cellphones with us these days, investing in an emergency battery charger is also a smart idea as rescuers and law enforcement may be able to locate you via your device in an extreme emergency. Helps if the phone is on!

Stay on designated trails.
I’ve already mentioned a couple times what could happen if you become lost. Of course, if you remain on designated trails, you’re much less likely to become lost. Most trails intersect with other trails and trailheads, which means even if you get your wires crossed somewhere along the way you’ll still end up back at civilization or encountering other hikers at some point. Having one of those handy dandy maps, usually made available at trailheads or relief stations, is an added layer of security you’ll be thankful for. Most are color-coded and reveal intersection points, trail length, and proximity to identifying structures both natural and manmade. All that makes navigation much easier.

Know your limits. The outdoors aren’t for everyone and that’s okay! Truth is, even experienced hikers/backpackers can sometimes find themselves frustrated, frightened or fatigued. Especially when traversing unknown territory or encountering unexpected obstacles such as defaced or missing signage, less maintained sections of trail, or natural events such as rain, rock or mudslides, or encounters with intimidating wildlife. It’s important to never push your limits, particularly while alone. Not feeling it that day? Turn around. Forgot to pack enough food or water? Turn around. Safety first.
If you plan to skip the grand outdoor adventure this summer and campout in the backyard instead, that can be just as much fun. If you need more back yard to explore, feel free to talk to an agent from your local branch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty. We promise, they won’t leave you out there in the woods! Our real estate professionals are among the most trained and tech savvy in the business, ensuring you’ll be kept in the loop every step of the way. Happy hiking and happy house hunting!