Outdoor Safety & Ethics

As a visitor to our National Forest, you will find many opportunities to explore nature and enjoy its many woodlands, river, lakes, and its endless recreational activities. To take full advantage of what this National Forest has to offer you; we ask that you prepare yourself in advance for each trip and adventure. It is important that you learn about the area, from its weather and terrain, to the rules and regulation that may govern the activity you will be participating in.

Visitors should be considerate of other forest users, nature, wildlife and the lands that make up this Forest.

We want each of your adventures to be safe and memorable so we have provided some general information links that you may find useful and helpful. We hope you will enjoy your time spent on the Mark Twain National Forest and that you will return again.

Don't forget to Tread Lightly and remember Leave No Trace.

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.


If There Is An Emergency

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.


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



Animal Hazards

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Mostly bears though. Following these tips will help protect you from a potentially unpleasant experience as well as protecting the wildlife.

Camp & Trail Safety

Outdoor Safety: Camp and Trail - Campsite

Whether it’s your first time camping or your five thousandth mile hiking, biking or riding – take a glance at some of these safety tips to help make sure your trip is a fun memory.


Natural Hazards

Outdoor Safety: Natural Hazards - Hazard Trees

Anything can happen in the woods. Here is some information on natural hazards you may run across, including rock slides, lightening and earthquakes.

Health Hazards

Outdoor Safety: Health Hazards - Poison Sumac

Always be careful of water, plants, weather and bugs. Here is some information on what to watch for.


Water Safety

Outdoor Safety: Water Safety - Irish Wilderness

Water is fun, but also very dangerous. Check out this page for information on being safe in, near and around water.

Other Safety Concerns

Outdoor Safety: Other Hazards - gravel road

Abandoned Mines, vehicle safety, driving, and other people.