Safety First Always
The Niagara Escarpment is a very beautiful place during different seasons. Each season poses certain dangers and users should always take precautions. Wilderness areas should never be taken for granted regarless of size or location. People who have poor balance, trouble walking or that are inexperienced should not enter many of the trails. There are many hazards to be wary of along the Niagara Escarpment including but not limited to;
- Loose, slippery or sharp rocks and clay
- Fallen trees
- Deep or fast moving water
- Steep slopes and cliffs
- Wildlife and ticks
- Thorny shrubs or bushes and Poison Ivy
- Hot or cold seasonal temperatures
- Snow or Leaves hiding the natural terrain
Injuries can reduce the level of enjoyment for everyone which is why a safety plan has been developed to make a day of hiking and cleaning as positive an experience possible for all. With the use of common sense most accidents can be avoided. We ask that ALL participants observe and respect the following rules:
- Sign in with a team leader upon arrival
- Do not bring your pets
- Stick to the trails when cleaning up garbage and debris
- Hikers under 18 years of age should be accompanied by an adult
- Hikers should always pair up with at least one other person
- No hiker should ever be alone
- Do not enter into areas you are unsure of
- Stay away from cliffs and steep slopes
- Be conscious of rocks and tree roots that you may trip over
- Do not pick up sharp objects or broken glass
- No Horse Play
- Do not go into near by water
- Do not harm wild life
- Do not eat plants or drink water from the creeks
- The use of drugs or consumption of alcohol of any kind will not be tolerated and police will be notified.
Hiking isn’t typically dangerous. Much more often it’s a great pleasure, even an adventure. But when you’re outside you can get injured or worse. It pays to use some common sense hiking safety tips.
Exercise common sense
Among other things that means don’t get carried away with your enthusiasm – and a belief in your invincibility – and tempt fate. Mother Nature is quite indifferent to hurting you when you do dumb things.
When you are preparing for your hiking trip, make sure to take your personal safety into consideration. Tell someone close to you where you are going, how long you’ll be there and when you expect to return. Let them know that if your plans change, you’ll notify them right away. That way if you aren’t back when you are supposed to be, they will know that something could be wrong.
Carry even a basic first aid kit with you whenever you go hiking. Make sure it has all the supplies you need to attend to any cuts, sprains, bruises or other injuries you may have while on your trip. A good kit will still be compact and lightweight, and it could even be a life saver.
Of course the main idea is to have fun while hiking – and by doing a few simple things to ensure your safety and security you can focus on having a great time!
Take basic provisions
Water or other fluids like sports drinks are an obvious essential. You can lose a lot of fluid even over a two-hour period on a hot day. Heat stroke can kill, but is easily preventable. Even dehydration can radically reduce physical performance. Just remember water weighs about 8 lbs per gallon. Take what you need, not much more.
Avoid drinking out of streams. Natural water sources, especially in Hamilton, are loaded with bacteria. Just remember, animals bathe and eliminate in them and Hamilton sewer systems and road run off contaminate them.
Take enough food to last you the anticipated hike time. About 1 lb per day (depending on what you bring) is average for a medium-sized male. You can last longer without food than water, so trade off when you have to.
Take a lighter or matches. Matches can get wet, but a lighter can run out of fuel. No plan is perfect. A knife, especially one with lots of genuinely useful gadgets can be a literal lifesaver.
A simple first aid kit can also be a lifesaver. Gauze and bandages, anti-bacterial cream and other standard items are essential. Anti-itch and sunburn pain reliever can be greatly appreciated sometimes. Of course, you have to have some first-aid knowledge. Gauze and bandages don’t do you any good if you don’t know the difference between venous and arterial bleeding.
A flashlight is a must. Dress in layers so you can remove clothing to stop from overheating and also make sure you have enough clothing to keep you warm during the cooler seasons.
You never know who you will meet up with. What would you do if you ran into a criminal while on a nature hike? Chances are you’d be much too far away to get any help, so you must be able to defend yourself.
You never know what may happen when you are out hiking, so one of the best tips to remember is to simply be aware of your surroundings at all times. Use all of your senses to watch, listen and even smell for any sign of danger. It’s easy to focus on the natural beauty that surrounds you, but always stay focused, aware and ready for anything.
Common Hiking Mistakes Not to Make
“It’s just a short hike – I don’t need to bring my essentials.”
Accidents don’t care if you’re out for an hour or a week. If you’re taking a hike, be sure to bring the essentials in a waterproof container every time.
“This water looks clean enough.”
Sparkly, clean-looking water can still host pathogens that could ruin your hike or cause a potentially life-threatening illness. Purify all water with heat, chemicals or a filter. Also, practice good hiking hygiene and keep hands and utensils clean.
“I’ll bring a GPS, so I don’t have to bring a map.”
If you don’t have a map and have marginal GPS skills, your new GPS will only tell you exactly where you’re lost. Electronic gadgets have batteries that die. They get dropped. A GPS tool is never a safe substitute for solid map and compass skills.
“Hiking sure is faster with my MP3 player.”
Sometimes good tunes make the big hills smaller, but they can muffle the noise of an approaching storm or the delicate call of a rare bird. Enjoy nature’s soundtrack as often as possible on your hikes.
“It’s been so long since I last hiked; let’s make it a long one.”
After a long winter of too much trail mix and not enough walking, of course you want to make your first summer trip a big outing. Instead, take it easy the first few hikes out, and let your fitness level increase gradually. Abrupt and vigorous exertion without building fitness can put you at risk of injury.
“It’s just a short hike, and I hike it all the time. I don’t need to tell anyone where I’m going.”
Again, accidents don’t discriminate. It’s possible to get hurt just minutes from your home. Tell a good friend where you’re going, when you plan to be back and who to call if you’re seriously late.
“It’s not going to be below freezing today, I can wear jeans and a T-shirt.”
Cold weather adventurers prepare abundantly, but 40-degree rainy weather in early spring emboldens some to neglect the necessary gear for safety and comfort. Dress in multiple layers of synthetics and pack rainwear and a warmer coat and hat.
“If I get lost, I can just call for help.”
Cell phones are never substitutes for good planning, common sense and solid safety and navigation skills. Often, cell phones can’t be relied upon for emergency rescue either. So if you’re hiking in a situation that stretches your survival skills, consider a satellite-based emergency beacon.
“Plenty of people volunteer on trails, so I don’t need to.”
Many people don’t consider how hard many volunteers work to provide us the simple joy of hiking a well-maintained trail. The Bruce Trail Conservancy is completely devoted to protecting trails and the hiking experience, so that you can experience the joy of trails whenever you’re moved to take a hike. Visit www.brucetrail.org and become a member to help protect the trails you love.