With fall officially here, many people will be heading outdoors for a day of hiking, backpacking, and camping. Whether you’re just going to explore one of the larger parks in Fayette County – like the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary – or you’re heading for the Red River Gorge for an extended adventure, you need to make sure you run through the following checklist before you leave.
- ALWAYS tell a friend or family member where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Agreed on a safe time home so that if you don’t make an end-of-trip phone call, they can call the park rangers, police, or other authorities and start a search for you.
- PLAN: You’re always going to need something. Don’t head out for a hike without some essentials. Even the most familiar trails or areas can be a scene for an accident. If at all possible, don’t hike alone. Before leaving, check local sunset time using a website, such as https://www.sunrisesunset.com/USA/Kentucky. Plan on being back at the trailhead with an hour of daylight remaining. Night hikes are significantly more dangerous because of the uneven ground, ravines, or sinkholes. Check the weather forecast before you leave.
- NAVIGATION: Take along a map and compass. Get familiar with your mobile phone map and compass features. Bring along an extra cell phone charging battery. Even if you’re out of a cell phone service area, many mobile app compass features will receive GPS signals to show you where you are.
- COMMUNICATION: Get a mobile NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio. Turn it on when you start your hike so that if weather conditions change, you’ll get an alert. A small battery-operated AM/FM radio is also a good idea. Pack a lifeguard or emergency whistle. A whistle can be heard farther away than your voice. Yelling just makes you tired. A small mirror is a good daytime backup for signaling.
- SUN PROTECTION: Bring a hat with a wide brim all around, new sunscreen, and sunglasses. Most sunscreen loses its protective qualities after a year. SPF 30 is a good choice for all-around sun protection. Make sure your sunglasses block UVA and UVB light rays.
- FIRST AID KIT: Make sure you have bandages, tweezers, sterile gauze dressings, disposable gloves, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, eye dressings, scissors, bandage tape, elastic compression bandages, antiseptic cream, painkillers, cough medicine, thermometer, antihistamine tablets, and distilled water for flushing wounds and cleaning. If you take medication for a chronic condition, take at least two days worth with you. If you have an extreme allergy to bee stings, poison plants, or other substances and have a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector, make sure to bring it with you. If you’re breaking in newer boots, make sure you have blister care products in your kit. Include insect repellent with DEET.
- FOOD AND WATER: Take twice what you need. High energy nutrition bars are a good choice. Water that you can carry, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area. Water purification tablets or a personal water filter can be a good backup. Use a canteen or heavy-duty water bottle.
- INSULATION: Weather conditions can turn wet, windy, and cold. It’s essential to carry an extra layer of clothing based on the season. Pack extra underwear, socks, an insulating hat, shirt, rain poncho, and fleece.
- ILLUMINATION: Headlamps are the best choice for hikers, as they allow hands-free operation and tend to have long battery life. Flashlights and lanterns with LED bulbs are good as well. Make sure you have spare batteries.
- FIRE: Matches should be waterproof and carried in a waterproof container. Bring a small bag of firestarters such as dry fuel, candles, heat nuggets, or dryer lint. A steel and flint fire starter is a good backup.
- TOOLS & REPAIR KIT: Your kit should include a good, sharp knife. A multi-tool can come in handy as well. Bungee cords, paracord, some 3″ carabiners, and duct tape will come in handy.
- EMERGENCY SHELTER: If you get lost and have to spend the night outdoors, pack a small tarp and a couple of emergency space blankets. You can use a large trash bag to keep you and your supplies dry and clean.
Some information from REI.com