Safety Information

Driving on Forest Roads | The 10 Essentials | Preparation | Camping, Backpacking and Hiking | Wildlife | Hypothermia | Crime Prevention

Safety Tip: Always notify family or friends of your trip itinerary including your expected return schedule. 

Driving on Forest Roads

  • Forest roads are not plowed during the winter & many are impassable and/or closed in winter due to snow. 
  • Carry a paper map or download a map ahead of time.  Most areas do NOT have cell service.
  • High clearance vehicles are required on many roads. 
  • Know & respect the limitations of your vehicle. Tow trucks are expensive and you may not have cell service to call one.
  • Plan to encounter rocks, boulders, road washouts, downed trees and brush. Drive slowly.
  • Check ODOT road conditions before you head out.
  • Click on table of current road status for some roads of Mt. Hood National Forest. Call your local ranger district office for more information.
  • Use extreme caution when on single lane roads. Use turnouts and make sure you can stop within half your sight distance. Braking on a gravel road is much different than on pavement and your braking time will take longer.
  • Beware of oncoming traffic and commercial traffic such as log trucks.
  • Food, gas, and lodging are seldom available. Carry proper tools and supplies when traveling in a national forest.  Have a winter car kit packed in your vehicle.
  • Always let someone know your plans and when you plan to return.  

The 10 ESSENTIALS

It is recommended for day hikes and backpack trips into the Wilderness or backcountry that each person carry:

  • a map of area
  • compass
  • flashlight/with extra batteries
  • sunglasses
  • extra food
  • extra clothing
  • pocket knife
  • first aid kit
  • matches in waterproof container
  • candle or fire-starter

Also, wear waterproof boots, carry durable raingear and a waterproof tent. Wear and carry clothing, including a hat and gloves, that retains warmth when they get wet such as wool or polypropylene.  

Know Before You Go!

  • Learn as much as you can about the area you plan to visit
  • Obtain a map and know your travel routes.
  • Contact the nearest Ranger District office for current conditions.
  • If climbing or backcountry skiing check current avalanche conditions reports.
  • Check the weather conditions before you leave and be observant of changing weather conditions.
  • In addition to the 10 essentials be sure to be prepared for adverse weather conditions by having raingear and proper footwear that provides ankle support.

Camping, Hiking, and Backpacking

  • Pick a safe campsite. Be observant of dead or leaning trees and loose limbs in trees.
  • Use existing fire rings whenever possible. Build your campfire away from trees, logs, stumps, overhanging branches, dense dry grass and forest litter. Never leave a campfire unattended, even for a moment. Be certain your fire is completely out & cold to the touch when you leave. Abandoned campfires cause many forest fires. You may be held liable for any uncontrolled fires you start.
  • You should treat all surface water before using for cooking or drinking. Boil rapidly for one minute to kill bacteria or use a filter or tablets designed to treat the microscopic organism Giardia lamblia.
  • Do not leave valuables in your vehicle.
  • Notify the campground host, forest ranger, or law enforcement of any suspicious activity. Do not put yourself in danger by getting involved. Information such as vehicle license number, or identification of individuals will help.
  • Observe forest wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace ethics to keep our Forest healthy!

Wildlife

  • Always watch wildlife from a safe distance, and never follow or approach wild animals.
  • Never feed wild animals. This can endanger both animals and humans.
  • Leave alone young animals that look abandoned.
  • Visit the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Webpage on Living With Wildlife for safety tips when hiking or recreating where wildlife may be present.

Hypothermia

When you are outdoors for recreation, think about rapid body heat loss. Hypothermia may be a new word to you, but it is the ONLY word that describes the rapid, progressive mental and physical collapse accompanying the chilling of the inner core of the human body.

Prevention

  • Stay Dry. Wet clothes lose about 90% of their insulating value. Make sure your rain gear works.
  • Beware of the Wind. Wind carries heat away by driving cold air through clothing. Wear a wind breaker. Protect your skin.
  • Prevent Exhaustion. Exercise drains your energy reserves. Stop and rest frequently while you still have energy. If hypothermia develops, STOP TRAVELING. Help the victim reserve energy and heat. Send for help.
  • Eat and Drink. Drink and eat throughout the day. Dehydration and insufficient energy lead to fatigue and depression, poor circulation and lousy decisions.
  • End Exposure. Seek shelter if conditions are bad. If you can't stay warm and dry, turn back. Give up your objective, not your life!
  • Watch for Symptoms. Watch for these symptoms: uncontrollable shivering; vague, slurred speech; memory lapses; incoherence, or irrational behavior; fumbling hands; frequent stumbling; drowsiness or exhaustion; hallucinations; blueness of skin; dilation of pupils; weak or irregular pulse; unconsciousness.

Take Action -- Believe the Symptoms, not the Victim!

  • Prevent further heat loss. Get the victim out of the wind and precipitation. Change out of wet clothes and into dry, warm clothes. NEVER give the victim alcoholic beverages.
  • Increase heat production. If the victim is conscious, give warm, sweet drinks. Keep the semi-conscious victim awake. Put the victim in a warm sleeping bag. Attempt to warm the victim by providing heat to the chest area. Do NOT attempt to warm extremities first.
  • Seek medical help. Heart and lung failure are significant threats to hypothermia victims

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