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Outdoor Safety in the PNW

The Pacific Northwest is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering breathtaking landscapes, lush forests, and an abundance of recreational activities. However, it’s essential to prioritize safety and health while embarking on these outdoor adventures. Here are some tips to ensure a safe excursion in the Pacific Northwest this summer:

1. Plan and Prepare

Before heading out, research the trail or activity you plan to undertake. Be aware of the weather conditions, difficulty level, and any potential hazards. Create a detailed itinerary and share it with a trusted friend or family member. Many Oregon trails include a drop box at the trailhead where you should add your hike itinerary and the members of those in your party. If things go wrong, people who know your plans can call for help, and those individuals may be better equipped to help you. It’s best to prepare for the worst if the worst occurs. Also, here in Oregon, summer forest fires are unfortunately becoming more common. Check the location beforehand to ensure you’re not entering an area where fires could spread unexpectedly. This is something that I’ve unfortunately faced myself.

2. Pack Proper Gear 

Dress appropriately for the weather. We recommend people wear sturdy footwear, and bring essential equipment such as maps, compasses, headlamps, and first aid kits. We may think that the summer is all sun and smiles, but in the Pacific Northwest, the weather can change quickly. Because of the unpredictability of PNW weather, we suggest that you always pack rain gear and extra layers. 

3. Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout your adventure. Additionally, pack high-energy snacks and meals that provide necessary calories and nutrition. Fruits, snacking vegetables, granola, and sandwiches are all great snacks for outdoor activities. If you or someone in your group is skilled enough, you could take advantage of the region’s natural resources, such as wild berries and edible plants. However, if you are doing this, make sure to have the proper knowledge or 100% certainty in your skills to identify edible foods. The last thing anyone wants to happen is food poisoning or falling ill outdoors, away from medical assistance. 

4. Know Your Limits

Be honest with yourself about your physical fitness and experience level. Remember that higher elevations impact stamina due to thinner air. When I hiked Mount Hood at around 7,000 feet, I was surprised how much harder it was to catch my breath. Start with trails and activities that match your abilities and gradually progress. If you’re unsure of what your ability level is, then start with something easy. You can then gauge yourself to see if you can do more, but increase intensity slowly. Pushing yourself in physical activity is great, but pushing beyond your limits or ramping up your activity level too quickly is an easy way to get injured or get into accidents. Also, pay attention to the clock. It’s easy to lose track of time and find yourself racing to get back to a trailhead or camp before dark. Traveling at night in some areas can be extremely dangerous so give yourself adequate time. 

5. Practice Leave No Trace

Respect our beautiful region by following the principles of Leave No Trace. Minimize your impact, dispose of waste properly, and avoid damaging plants and wildlife. Preserve the beauty of the Pacific Northwest for future adventurers. Many parks warn hikers to stay on the trail and not wander off marked trails. This is for your safety and to protect nature.

By adhering to these safety tips, we can enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest while prioritizing our well-being. Remember, it’s crucial to stay prepared and respectful to make the most of your outdoor adventures in this stunning region. If you have been hurt or injured while outdoors this summer, book an appointment at AFC Portland by calling us at (503) 305-6262 or book an appointment online at https://afcurgentcareportland.com/.

Enjoy your outdoor adventure!