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Now that the weather is getting warmer and school is out, we are all looking for more activities outside of our homes. Hiking is a fun and healthy idea for the whole family!

Without proper planning and packing, even a short day hike could turn into a potentially dangerous outing. So, before you head out remember these hiking safety tips.

1. Make a Gear List

Whether you're hiking for three hours or three days, you don't want to forget something important. Make a gear list before your adventure to make sure you have everything you might need. The list includes: water, extra water, rain gear, compass, map and extra food.

2. Bring a Map

Of all the hiking safety tips, bringing a map is one of the most important. You should never rely solely on GPS technology, especially with limited service and unreliable battery power. Always pack a map, and if you're not sure how to read one, take some time to learn beforehand.

3. Hike During the Day

Whenever possible, plan to hike during the day; not only is it easier to get lost in the dark, but the region where you're hiking may be home to a variety of wild animals that come out at night.

The best way to avoid being stuck out in the dark is to set a turnaround time to ensure you finish hiking before the sun goes down.

4. Know the Area

Exploring new hiking trails is always exciting. Unfortunately, it also means you're unfamiliar with the territory. Before heading out, check regional hiking information for:

- Local wild animals and what to do

- Local poisonous plants

- Local hunting areas/seasons

- Any hiking alerts

5. Check the Forecast

Check the forecast up until the moment before you leave. This is important in determining what gear you need to bring, like a rain jacket, sunscreen, extra water or warmer clothing. If the forecast does predict rain, be sure the trail you're taking is still passable in such conditions. Call your local Parks and Recreation Department, where they can direct you to real-time information.

6. Be Confident Not Cocky

Whether you've hiked 30 times or five, you know what you can and can't handle. When hiking in a group or with a more advanced friend, you may be inclined to take on something you aren't ready for. Don't risk injury; be honest with your skill level before hitting the trail.

7. Tell Someone Before You Go

It is very important that you tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be home. If that person doesn't hear from you by a certain time, they can take the necessary action.

8. Stay Together

When hiking with a large group, it's easy to separate into groups of fast and slow hikers. Often, this happens naturally, but it isn't always safe. Keep someone at the front that hikes at a modest pace, to ensure everyone stays together.

*Information received at https://www.active.com/outdoors/articles/8-hiking-safety-tips?page=1

For more information and tips, check our website at www.lincolncountysheriff.net and like us on Facebook: Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office – Oregon.

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