CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A towel and a piece of tin foil might not seem like life-saving equipment, but in a hiking emergency, just a few extra precautions could make the difference.
Before you go hiking in West Virginia or elsewhere, here are a few precautions you can take to make sure that you return safely from your adventures.
Tin foil trick
The West Virginia K-9 Search and Rescue recently shared this hack on their Facebook page. Prior to leaving for a hike, leave a print of your shoes in your car so that someone could follow your tracks if you went missing or got lost. To do this, put a towel on the ground, put a piece of tin foil on top of it, and step on it with your hiking boot or whatever shoe you will be wearing on your adventure. It will make a clean impression of the bottom of your shoe to leave in your car or campsite.
Parents, you can also do this hack with your children’s shoes before any outdoor activity in case they get lost or wander off.
While it won’t always work during dry conditions, taking this quick precaution before longer hikes could be the reason you get saved in an emergency.
Here are other tips that everyone should follow to stay safe on hikes and outdoor adventures:
- Tell someone – As great as an impulsive hike alone sounds, it can be extremely dangerous. A foil footprint isn’t going to help if no one knows where your car is. When going into the woods, especially alone, make sure that you tell someone where you are going and about when you should be expected back. This is especially important in areas where cellphone service is unreliable. Before you head into the woods, just drop your start location to a trusted friend, and text them when you get back to your car or call them when you get home.
- Map up – We know, this one is obvious. But sometimes on shorter, spontaneous hikes, no one takes the time to think ‘how will I get back?’ If you are taking a short day hike to enjoy West Virginia’s views, make sure to snap a photo of the trail map on your phone or look it up and screenshot it in case you lose service. And for longer trips, have a paper map. Make sure you also bring along navigation equipment on longer hikes; a compass really could be the difference between a fun adventure and a terrifying night in the woods.
- Bring water – Another seemingly obvious one, but bring water, no matter how short or long your hike is. In case of an emergency or you getting lost, it will be worse without clean water to drink. For longer hikes, bring a snack as well. You don’t want low blood sugar to be the reason you don’t make it home.
The National Park Service and West Virginia Department of Transportation have lists of additional safety precautions and things you should consider packing on your hike. WVDOT says to remember to leave your ego at home. “The outdoors is no place to try a maneuver just to see if you can do it.”