Considering how to protect yourself in the wilderness
By Scarlet Gratton
Planning for your wilderness getaway never kicks off with thoughts on getting lost in the woods or spotting a bear. We envision perfect, sunny weather, peaceful hiking trails, butterflies, birdsong, waking up to the sound of the babbling brook nearby, and tasting fresh berries you’ve just picked. The reality, however is somewhat different, and it calls for thorough preparation for your trips to the beautiful outdoors, in order to stay safe when camping, hiking, or lounging in a cabin.
As beautiful as Mother Nature is, it can also be extremely dangerous when you’re not prepared or trained to cope with specific situations. That is why some survival training and preparation are essential for any adventure you plan. Here are a few safety precautions and self-defense ideas to keep in mind for your next outdoor escapade.
Get to know the region you’re visiting
Heading out to a national park or a reserve you’ve never visited before? It’s time to start browsing and exploring official pages of those locations to learn about the native wildlife in those areas, as well as the official advice given to visitors by experts. Just like each location has its own climate, it also has specific wildlife you might encounter, from bears, wolves, snakes, spiders, all the way to seemingly harmless birds. In any event, knowing how to behave and what not to do around those species can make all the difference in the world and in knowing how to protect yourself in the wilderness.
Basic awareness of your surroundings is vital, as you’ll be able to recognize tracks, and perfect habitats of each animal, so you’ll know to steer clear. Some of the most common predator precautions include the following:
- Don’t surprise any animal – they will feel threatened and often try to defend themselves by attacking.
- Don’t feed or touch any wild animal you encounter.
- Don’t leave any food or trash behind – it’s both extremely bad for that very same environment you seem to love, and it’s dangerous because it will attract predators.
Learn about making your own shelter
In addition to predators, you also need to be cautious about the elements. Different weather situations can escalate quickly, and if you’re not aware of your position and your options, you risk jeopardizing your safety and your health. That is why you should practice and learn how to make your own shelter in the wild.
Just in case something goes awry with the tent you brought, or if it gets destroyed or you get lost, being able to make your own little nook will keep you warm until you go back to safety or call someone to pick you up. By using fallen branches, leaves, moss, and other natural materials, you can easily build an insulated shelter quickly.
Self-defense essential tools and must-haves
Knowing all the right behavioral patterns in the presence of a wild animal is paramount when you’re exploring nature. Especially if you’re camping on your own and you spend more time in the great outdoors, you need additional protection to stay safe and know how to protect yourself in the wilderness in case any wildlife encounter escalates. For some of those situations, you’ll need a bear spray, a multipurpose pocket knife, and sometimes a firearm.
First of all, learn how to handle, clean, and store all of those pieces of equipment. As a gun owner, you need to do some research and go through gun safe reviews so that you can find a vault to keep your firearm and your ammunition stored safely. Learn how to clean your weapon, and how to aim properly, so that you can defend yourself in a stressful situation in nature. The same applies to any knives you have, as knowing how to use and store them safely can help you stay focused in an emergency.
Finding fresh water
In case you run out of water or you get lost, one of the primary skills you’ll need to survive and stay safe is to be able to find fresh water. After thoroughly learning about the topography of the area you’re visiting, you’ll know where to look and what parts of your location are most likely to hide water pockets.
After finding some water, you need to boil it or use a water filter to ensure that you’re not about to ingest any pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella. You can also learn how to collect water from dew and plants, which might take longer, but it’s equally effective.
Escapades and endless hiking trails are enough to make any globetrotting gal swoon. However, you also need to make sure that people know where you are, how long you plan to be away, and the easiest way to reach you. Ideally, share your coordinates with someone you know. Add to that, bring a few useful communication tools to be able to reach someone in case of an emergency.
For example, a satellite phone, or a multifunctional device that sends out text alerts with your coordinates can be extremely helpful in such situations. A simple flashlight can help you send out a signal for help in Morse code, so prep for that, too.
Depending on your destination and the duration of your trip into the wild, you’ll be able to learn so much from each adventure you take and adapt your skills over time. While you’ll hopefully never need to use some of the listed methods, knowing them is key for how to protect yourself in the wilderness. Perfecting them will give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your travels and to keep yourself and your companions safe.