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An adventure into the great outdoors has many benefits, including social, cultural and historic value. The outdoors also can help us relieve our stress, exercise our weary minds and muscles and connect us to not just nature but our family, friends and ourselves. With an outdoors adventure comes a sense of responsibility, especially when it comes to safety. Please remember, you are responsible for the safety of yourself and for those around you. 

Ensure your trek outdoors is a positive one. Know what you’re doing, how to do it right and how to do it safely.

Before you go:

  • Visit the forest or grassland web pages for safety rules and alerts, including those that warn you of road closings, trail conditions, wildland fires and known animal dangers. If you need more information, call the forest of grassland of your destination.
  • Check the weather then wear and/or bring the appropriate clothing. 
  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas, plenty of drinking water and food to last throughout your trip – or even beyond in case you decide to say longer. Know where to find gas near your forest or grassland destination.
  • Pack a first aid kit and know how to use it.
  • Make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Then stick to the plan.
  • Know whether you need a permit for the activity you plan and be sure you carry your permit with you at all times.

While you are there:

  • Follow posted rules: they are there for your safety and for the protection of wildlife and natural resources.
  • Keep your children in sight at all times.
  • Keep your pets on a leash.
  • Keep all food stored in animal-proof containers.
  • Let wild animals eat their wild dinners. They are not pets, and you should not feed them.
  • Remember Smokey Bear and his warning: Only you can prevent wildfires.
  • Never park on dry grass. The hot undercarriage of your car could start a fire
  • Start your activities early and be sure you have plenty of time in your day to return to your vehicle or campsite before dark.
  • Hike with a buddy.
  • Carry plenty of water and nutrition-packed foods in airtight containers.
  • Wear protective clothing, including hiking boots and layers. 
  • Carry a compass and a map. Don’t rely on your cell phone because forests often don’t have cell towers.

After you leave:

  • Take you trash with you or leave it in an authorized dumpster.
  • Find a wash station on your way home to wash away any invasive species on your boat, car or recreational vehicle.
  • Post your photos on Facebook, Pinterest or Tweet @forestservice
  • Plan your next trip.

Remember: You are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.