Women’s Outdoor Safety Tips – How Not to Get Lost

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Safety Mantras are easy
and important to remember year round.

 

Women’s outdoor safety is the most important piece to your adventures. We are different beasts. We need different tools to ensure our safety and each others. To help, I’m sharing with you, my 3 safety mantras for the summer season (and really all year long) to encourage women’s outdoor safety.

Summer has settled here in Utah. The trails have dried from the winter runoff, the spring flowers have had their brilliant but brief display and everyone has dusted off their packs and tents to escape into the cool high mountains. I’m about to dive in to why you need safety mantras and what your safety mantras should be, to help keep you safe this summer.

For Tyke and I, summer is search season. I’m strapping on my radio, Tyke’s wearing his vest and we’re waiting for the phone to buzz, calling us to the Incident Command location. Together, our job is to search for people in all sorts of situations all summer long. From an easy wrong turn, to a more treacherous rock climbing route gone wrong. Surprisingly, most of what I come across is easily avoidable, if only we take the proper precautions before heading out. That brings us to why I am writing about these summer safety mantras.

Women Who Explore are out in full force and I want to arm you with a few, easy to remember, safety mantras while you set off on adventures so these are my “women’s outdoor safety tips”.

Women’s Outdoor Safety – Mantras to Remember

Women’s Outdoor Safety tip #1 – Know Before You Go Mantra

Not getting lost in the first place is the goal. Write “Know Before You Go” on your backpack, stick a note in your hiking shoes, attach it to your favorite EDC knife or write it on the back of your hand if that’s what it takes. This is the best way to not only improve your chances of not getting lost but of surviving if you do. As women’s outdoor safety tip #1, know before you go means:

doing your research and being prepared.

I have a standard email that I send to one or two friends every time I go on a multi-day adventure or a longer hike. It tells them where I’m going, with whom, how long I plan to be there, and when to call search and rescue. Practicing “know before you go” is also a fun way to learn some new skills. I’ve often gone into internet search spirals and video watching of survival skills while looking up information about my route. There have also been times that I end up adding or removing equipment and supplies from my pack based on what I read.

Need a nudge? Here are some of the outdoor safety subjects I research before each hike:
  1. Search routes: specifically water availability, distance, elevation gain, shaded or not, is it marked or do you need to print out a beta (route description)
  2. Weather: things to be aware of – HEAT (will determine what time of day you should leave or take longer breaks), flash floods, high mountain thunderstorms (yes, even in the middle of July)
  3. Read official government notices from their websites or social media accounts: animal awareness (recent bear invasions, snake season, etc.), invasive species, recent happenings, road closures, fire bans, parking instructions and other general rules for the area.

Women’s Outdoor Safety tip #2 – Hug a Tree Mantra

What’s the best thing you can do for yourself when you do get lost? “Hug a tree” and if there aren’t any trees then hug a rock. This has a few meanings when it comes to women’s outdoor safety. Panic is the natural result of realizing you are lost. It is critical to not make any decisions while you are panicking. Women’s outdoor safety tip #2 means sitting by a tree or rock, catching your breath, and letting your mind race around for a bit, will help tremendously. All non-injury searches are due to people making poor decisions while scared and panicking. Survival decisions are hard enough to make, without the added blindness of panic, so hug a tree or rock and rest a bit. Practicing mindfulness can be critical in helping you make decisions, especially when time is precious.
Hugging a tree also means you stay put, making it easier for a search party to find you. Like a detective we follow your steps and guess at every junction in order to find you. The more you move the more it becomes a chase and the longer it takes for help to reach you.

Women’s Outdoor Safety tip #3 – Get Lost Mantra

You don’t have to go all Megan Hine to get by in the wilderness. Exposing yourself to small uncomfortable situations puts that “know before you go” knowledge into action. This important women’s outdoor safety tip encourages practicing, which solidifies the knowledge. You can start off simple:
  • Take your compass out instead of your smartphone to check your directions.
  • Start a fire after it’s rained, which is the hardest time to ever start a fire.
  • Hike a trail you know like the back of your hand, in the full moon, without your headlamp.
  • Sit by a tree for a while and consider how you would spend the night there.

If these even feel like big steps to you then start smaller. See if you can tell what time of day it is or what direction you’re traveling when walking around the city. Close your eyes and see if you can tell where the nearest busy road or highway is based on sound. Take a different route next time you walk your dog.

Repeat Your Safety Mantras

To complete your women’s outdoor safety training, memorize your safety mantra. This is your complete safety mantra, as you grab your hiking shoes and pack your bag:
“Know before you go”, “Hug a tree” and “Get lost.”
These tiny practices are surprisingly handy when confronted with unknowns. They’ve also helped in everyday life surprises too. Check out Utah Campfire Adventures if you’d like to learn more about survival skills and keep on exploring.

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