Safety on the Forest

The forest contains some natural hazards, and visitors to our national forest may also find unforeseen hazards and dangers that present unpredictable challenges. By being prepared, you can minimize those hazards and make your trip safer.  Remember that your safety is your responsibility.

The following sections provide information about potential safety challenges and links that offer additional information on the topics.

  • Natural Hazards
    • Earthquakes
    • Flooding
    • Forest Fires
    • Hazard Trees
    • Lighting
    • Rockslides
    • Snow and Ice
    • Tornados
  • Health Hazards
    • Hypothermia
    • Drinking Water
    • Insects
    • Poisonous Plants
    • Ticks & Tick Borne Diseases
  • Animals
    • Bears
    • Deer Collisions
    • Dogs and other pets
    • Feral Hogs
    • Other Wildlife
    • Snakes
  • Camp & Trail Safety
    • Campfires
    • Camping
    • Hunter Safety
    • Trail
    • Sharing the Trails
  • Water Safety
    • Boating
    • Lakes
    • Rivers
    • Watercraft
  • Other Safety Concerns
    • Abandoned Mines
    • Caves
    • Lead Exposure
    • Off-Highway Vehicles
    • Other People
    • Roads and Driving


Accidents happen.  All travel and recreation activities pose a certain degree of risk to the participants.  Knowing where you might need to go in case of an emergency is important in preparing for any trip. Orienting yourself to local emergency facilities before you travel and obtaining local emergency numbers can help prevent confusion and save precious time in the event of an accident or medical emergency.

Remain Calm. Call 911 or the local emergency number.

Do not depend on a cell phone to help you in an emergency, but try to use it if one is available.  Cell phone coverage is very patchy in parts of the forest, especially in valleys and along our rivers, streams and lakes. There may be a chance to reach a cell site by climbing to a ridge top. From the backcountry, report only serious emergencies by calling 911 or the local emergency numbers.

Make sure to state who you are, your specific location and the other information.  Knowledge of one's location is vital to the success of any rescue. Provide your cell phone number so you can be called back; don't move if they are planning to return a call. Sometimes just a foot or two makes a difference in getting a call through to a cell phone in the forest.  Be prepared to give the victim's location, the nature of the injury or accident and information about the victim or victims and their status.  Stay on the line and do not hang up! If possible, have someone help guide emergency personnel to the victim's location by making themselves visible near the entrance or crossroads to the location.

Emergency response times will be longer in a remote forest than in an urban setting. Learn Basic or Advanced First Aid and CPR, and carry First Aid supplies.