Let’s face it: Safety in a national park is eventually going to come to mind, even as you’re one of the hundreds of millions of people every year excited to take in all of nature’s splendor. After all, how could it not when you’re hiking on your own, experiencing rapidly changing temperatures depending on where you hike or climb to and oh, did you hear the story about the mountain lion attack around here many years ago? And what about the snakes?
It’s not that these things aren’t true. It’s that they grab the headlines more often than the real causes of injury and fatality at national parks.
The actual culprit of deaths at national parks? Drowning and vehicle accidents, according to the National Park Service. Wildlife attacks aren’t even close.
Why vehicle accidents? Because the beauty that surrounds you can quickly become a safety liability. Think about it: You’re in your car with your family on a long and winding road. Oh, look! A bald eagle! Look at that majestic mountain in the distance! That is quite a view. Look there at that gorgeous waterfall!
All the while, you’ve taken your eyes off the road, captivated by the scene around you instead of focused on the essential scene in front of you. And as a result, you’ve temporarily drifted into another lane into oncoming traffic. You know what comes next. Injury and tragedy.
Drowning accidents can occur in similar fashion. Have you hiked through this national park before? Probably not. So what looks like a shallow creek may be actually much deeper than you expect. And while the waters seem calm in one spot, it may resemble roaring rapids in another spot downstream. Will you be ready for that if you and your family go it alone on rafting?
So here are several safety tips in a national park to consider, including what to do if something actually does happen:
#1: Know The Park Before You Enter The Park
Some people like to get adventurous and explore where the park takes them. The danger with that occurs when they have no idea what lies around the corner. They get lost, someone accidentally falls and with one badly injured person in their party, they’re far away from help. And it’s getting dark.
Perhaps this scenario could be avoided with some good education and conversations at the park’s visitor center. What areas should you avoid? What areas are best for beginner level hikers and small children? Talking with a park ranger in advance can help you get the most out of your time in the safest possible way.
#2: Stay On The Path And Obey The Signs
They’re there for a reason. But you can’t help it. You just have to get a closer shot with your camera of that bear – which, by the way, the park staff has warned you to stay away from. This, of course, is when unfortunate harm can come to you. Some areas can have barbed wire fencing or electric fencing that could hurt or even kill a person if they aren’t careful. If you stray from the main paths, you might wander into areas that are prohibited by the park and put yourself in harm’s way. And you just don’t need a “selfie” with a bear or bison that badly.
#3: Bring Non-Digital Guidance Tools
Here’s something you probably didn’t think of – you’re in the farthest reaches of the park and your phone dies because, well, you can’t just plug it in for a charge out here, can you? Suddenly, your Google Maps app on your phone has just been rendered meaningless. So bring a paper map of the park and a compass to provide you with an invaluable back-up guide. It worked for people long before the age of electronics and it can be a lifesaver for you today.
#4: Take A Vehicle Safety Kit For Portable First Aid
For many injuries, it’s about providing first aid on the spot and for the more serious incidences, at least providing temporary first aid before help arrives. Don’t be caught in the wilderness with nothing. We’ve typically referred to our Vehicle Safety Kit as one bound to the vehicle for obvious reasons, but nonetheless, it is a portable carrying case that you can take with you in a backpack or bag. Bandages. Ice packs. Tweezers. Gauze. Antiseptic towelettes. Everything you could need for minor injuries is here and you’ll be glad you have a kit like this close at hand.
#5: The Bleed Control Kit That Every Park Official Needs
Those of you who work in the parks and recreation system, we haven’t forgotten about you: What you could use is a Bleeding Control Kit for those traumatic injuries which can occur. Each kit provides you with a tourniquet, pressure dressing, gauze bandages, nitrile gloves, trauma shears and more. Obviously, in a large national park, you’ll need several such kits to cover a lot of ground, but the good news is that we’ve made each kit extremely affordable so that nothing has to come between you and a park guest who desperately needs your help.
If you’re planning on traveling to a national park soon, take note of tips like the ones above and put a plan in place for safety before you go.
For parks and recreation officials, turn to SOS Technologies as your partner for a whole range of national park safety supplies and ongoing training to ensure your staff focuses on getting to the victim and administering first aid – not on whether or not you actually have an AED or first aid supplies. We’re here for you for this and every season. Call SOS today at 888.705.6100 or visit our website to order at www.SOS4Safety.com.