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Recent Near Death Incidents Highlight Importance of Hiking Safety

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There have been quite a few survival stories in the news the past few days, thankfully all with a happy ending. For example, the other day I wrote about a man who attempted the same hike from the popular movie 127 Hours at Little Blue John Canyon, broke his leg, and crawled back to his car for five miles to survive.

In a similar vein, a man in California was recently driving along a perilously curved mountain road near the Angeles National Forest when he was temporarily blinded by the headlights of an oncoming car and his car plunged 200 feet into a ravine. Suffering from a broken arm, fractures in his back and ribs, and a dislocated shoulder, the 68-year-old survived by eating bugs and leaves until his three adult children took matters into their own hands and found their father. In a strange twist of events, another man’s body, who had been missing since mid-September, was also found near the same area, bringing closure to the family that had searched for him without success.

If you’re planning a hike this fall to enjoy the changing colors, make sure you follow the suggested hiking safety tips:

  • Be prepared for the weather: be aware of any rain, thunderstorms, snow, humidity, extreme heat, etc. and pack accordingly (e.g. warm synthetic layers, a rain poncho or wide-brimmed sun hat). Also, make sure you are familiar with the conditions where you are hiking and know that weather can change quickly, particularly in Michigan.
  • Always hike with another person, sign in and out at each registry stand, and always communicate your planned hike with friends and family so they know where you will be ahead of time.
  • Carry a cell phone, area maps, compass, flashlight and headlamp with extra batteries, first aid kit, matches, knife, emergency strobe light, food and plenty of water in additional to traditional hiking gear.
  • Wear bright orange gear so people can spot you easily and proper hiking boots to support your feet.
  • Know how to build a fire in case of emergency and follow all fire safety regulations.
  • Reduce risk of injury by getting familiar with the local vegetation, animals, and terrain before venturing on your hike. Understand that animals can be poisonous and so can plants. Be watchful of loose boulders, trail edge bluffs, and other trail hazards. Consider carrying a trail guide with you.