CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A towel and a piece of aluminum foil might not seem like life-saving equipment, but in a hiking emergency, they could be.
Before you go hiking, taking a few extra precautions could make all the difference. Here are some tips to make sure you return safely from your adventures.
Aluminum foil trick
West Virginia’s K-9 Search and Rescue Team recently shared this hack on their Facebook page. Before leaving for a hike, leave a print of your shoes in your car so that someone can follow your tracks if you end up missing or getting lost.
To do this, put a towel on the ground, then place a piece of aluminum foil on top. 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 use this hack with your children’s shoes before any outdoor activity, in case they get lost or wander off.
“Whether you’re planning a short trip, all-day hike or [weeklong] adventure, this tip will help trained SAR [search and rescue] teams focus on the correct tracks should you get lost,” the post read.
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 some 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 when you expect to be back. This is especially important in areas where cellphone service is unreliable. Before you head into the woods, just drop your start location to someone you trust 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, make sure to snap a photo of the trail map on your phone or look it up and take a screenshot 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 tip: Bring water, no matter how short or long your hike is. 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 has lists of additional safety precautions and things you should consider packing on your hike.
“The outdoors is no place to try a maneuver just to see if you can do it,” says the West Virginia Department of Transportation.