WHMC Blog

7 Summer Hiking Safety Tips

With clear skies and clear schedules, summer is a favorite time for many to head outdoors and spend the weekend hiking and exploring. Even in climates better known for their triple-digit summer temperatures, like Southern California, hiking can be an enjoyable pastime as long as hikers take steps to ensure their own safety. These safety measures go beyond the basic “tell someone where you’re going” tip and can help you enjoy your outdoor adventures to the fullest this summer.

Tip #1: Be an Early Bird

We know. Its summer and you don’t want to have to think about waking up early. Need some motivation? 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. is peak temperature time, meaning that if you want to have a nice hike, you’ll need to get an earlier start. Think about it this way: don’t try to complete the whole hike before 11:00 a.m., just try to get the hard part over by the time the temperature spikes. You’ll be happier, safer, and may even get up early enough to catch a mountaintop sunrise or two.

Tip #2: Dress Your Best

The wilderness is no friend to bare skin. Between sunburn, rocks, thorns, sticks, poison ivy, and bug bites, your best bet to stay safe is to cover up. Invest in a few moisture-wicking long sleeve shirts and some pants to protect yourself from the elements. Anything left out should be slathered with sunscreen, especially if you’re hiking at altitude where the sun is stronger. Invest in a shady hat and some sunglasses and you’ll be ready to take on the sunshine.

Tip #3: Obey Your Thirst

An average hike causes your body to lose approximately one liter of water every hour. In especially toasty weather, that amount can double. The solution? Bring a lot of water and sip it consistently. Your body can’t efficiently absorb more than a half-liter of water every hour, so don’t resort to chugging water only when you’re thirsty.

Tip #4: Pass the Salt

Once you replace your body’s water, don’t forget to replace your electrolytes too! Pay close attention to your sodium and potassium intake while you hike. Pack some trail mix for an extended boost of energy that is fueled by complex carbs and throw some electrolyte drink mixes into your pack for a quick fix.

Tip #5: Stop & Smell the Roses

Give your body a break from time to time, especially if you’re hiking in warmer temperatures! Stop and admire the view, stretch your muscles, and let your body cool down before continuing. PRO-TIP: Bring an extra pair of socks to change out of your sweaty ones while you rest.

Tip #6: Educate Yourself

One of the biggest dangers while hiking in the summer is heatstroke. Know the early signs of heatstroke so that you can protect yourself and any others who may be hiking with you.

Signs of heatstroke:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of sweating (even in hot temperatures)
  • Headache
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Disorientation

If these are present, stop hiking immediately. Focus on finding shade, cooling down, and getting off the trail as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to call 911 and get medical attention!

Tip #7: Ask the Weatherman

Depending on your hike, the trail may experience different weather than you were expecting. Check your weather and even check with park rangers so that you know what to expect on your hike. This can help you prepare for your trip and avoid dangerously hot weather conditions.

Safely Scale Those Summits This Summer

At the end of the day, remember that your choice of trail greatly influences how safe you will be on your hike. If you’re planning a hike in record-setting summer temperatures, you may want to consider a shadier trail or a trail with lots of water. Also, make sure you never skip the basics: always tell someone where you’re going, bring a compass and map, and consider taking a buddy or two along on the trail with you. Happy hiking!

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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