Outdoor Safety & Ethics

General Safety Information

The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip. Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, limitations of your body, plus a little common sense can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Travel with a companion. You don't want to be by yourself in case of an emergency. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person. Include such details as the molel and license plate of your car, equipment you're bringing, weather you've anticipated, and when you plan to return.

  • If you'll be entering a remote area, your group should have a minimum of four people; this way, if one is hurt, another can stay with the victim while two go for help. If you'll be going into an area that is unfamiliar to you, take along someone who knows the area or at least speak with those who do before you set out.
  • If an area is closed, do not go there. Know ahead of time the location of the nearest telephone or ranger station in case an emergency does occur on your trip.

Be weather wise.  Monitor current and predicted weather conditions. Weather can change very quickly- know the signs for approaching storms or changing weather conditions. Avoid bare ridge tops, exposed places, lone trees, streams, and rocks during lightning storms. Find shelter in a densely forested area at a lower elevation. Even in the summer, exposure to wind and rain can result in hypothermiaKnow the signs of hypothermia.

Be in good physical condition. Set a comfortable pace as you hike. A group trip should be designed for the weakest member of the group. If you have any medical conditions, discuss your plans with your health care provider and get approval before departing.   If you plan to climb or travel to high altitudes, make plans for proper acclimatization to the altitude.

Think about your footing while traveling near cliffs. Trees and bushes can't always be trusted to hold you. Stay on developed trails or dry, solid rock areas with good footing. Wear appropriate clothing for the trail conditions and season.  Alcohol and cliffs don't mix!

Check your equipment. Keep your equipment in good working order. Inspect it before your trip.  Be sure to pack emergency signaling devices. 

Learn basic first aid so you will know how to identify and treat injuries and illnesses. Carry a first aid kit with you. Learn how to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, and dehydration.

Make camp before dark. Set up camp well away from the edge of cliffs, and learn the terrain during daylight. If you have to leave camp after dark, stay in areas you have seen in daylight, go with a friend, and always use a good flashlight.

Be alert for slippery areas and take your time to avoid tripping. Low-hanging branches and variable terrains make running unsafe, and leaves can hide slippery areas underneath.

Think before you drink! No matter how clean or pure stream water looks, it's likely to contain water-borne parasites and microorganisms that can cause discomfort and sometimes serious illness. Pack your water in, or purify through chemical treatment.  

Bat White Nose Syndrome

In March 2016, Washington’s first case of white-nose syndrome was confirmed in a Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) near North Bend. Though the disease has devastated bat populations in eastern North America, we do not yet know how it will impact western bats.  In general, bats in Washington do not hibernate in large aggregations like bats do in eastern North America.  Thus, the spread of the disease in western North America may be different.



https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r6/recreation/safety-ethics