Beating the Heat: 10 Essential Summer Hiking Safety Tips

image of people hiking through a field at sunset

Hiking is a rewarding way to connect with nature and stay fit. Summer, with its long days and plentiful sunshine, seems like the ideal time to hit the trails. However, summer hiking comes with unique challenges, not least of which is the sweltering heat. To help ensure your safety while exploring the great outdoors this summer, we’ve compiled a list of ten essential tips.

1. Start Early or Late

The sun is most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so to minimize exposure, plan to hike in the early morning or late afternoon. Besides, the soft glow of dawn or dusk can make your outdoor adventure feel even more magical.

2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Hydration is always crucial while hiking, but it’s even more so in the summer heat. Drink plenty of water before you hit the trail, and bring more water than you think you’ll need. For longer hikes, consider bringing a water purifier to refill from natural sources.

3. Dress Smart

Choose lightweight, breathable, and light-coloured clothing to reflect the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them. Also, opt for moisture-wicking fabrics to help keep you cool. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat for extra shade and sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

4. Slather on Sunscreen

Even on cloudy days, harmful UV rays can damage your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours or after heavy sweating.

5. Take Regular Breaks

Heat can increase fatigue, so take regular breaks in shaded areas. Listen to your body and rest when needed. During your breaks, drink water and munch on salty snacks to replace lost electrolytes.

6. Know the Signs of Heat Illness

Learn the signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, which include confusion, dizziness, headache, rapid heartbeat, and more. If you or a hiking partner exhibits any of these symptoms, seek shade, rest, hydrate, and cool the body with wet clothing. If symptoms persist, seek medical help immediately.

7. Learn About Local Wildlife

Summer not only draws hikers to the trails but also awakens many creatures, some of which may pose dangers to hikers. Be aware of the local wildlife and how to react should you encounter it.

8. Stay on Marked Trails

Following marked trails helps minimize your impact on the environment, keeps you safe from hazards, and prevents you from getting lost. Besides, trails are usually shaded and cooler than open areas.

9. Tell Someone Your Plan

Before heading out, let someone know your hiking plan, including your expected return time. This simple act can be a lifesaver if an unexpected situation arises.

10. Pack Essential Safety Gear

Your backpack should include a map, compass, first-aid kit, whistle, headlamp/flashlight, and multi-tool, among other essentials. These tools can be indispensable in a crisis, even in the age of smartphones.

Summer hiking, while challenging, can be safe and enjoyable with the right preparation. By following these tips, you can ensure that your adventure in the great outdoors will be a memorable one, for all the right reasons. Stay cool, stay hydrated, and happy trails!

The wellness team at Pickering Village Chiropractic & Massage provides patients with more than just chiropractic and massage therapy services, but also the know-how to build better personal wellness habits so you can be at your best for work or play, every day.

To book an appointment or learn more about the chiropractic and therapeutic massage therapy services available at our clinic, call 905-427-3202.