National Outdoor Leadership School Offers Expert Tips for Safely Exploring the Outdoors this Summer
LANDER, Wyo., May 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Take it from experts who have trained U.S. military, NASA astronauts, extreme athletes, Olympians and outdoor enthusiasts on just about every type of terrain found on our planet: when it comes to the wilderness, a little preparation goes a long way. Summer is approaching and it’s time to gear up, get out there and enjoy the coming season. Nearly 50 percent of Americans participated in outdoor recreation last year, according to the 2010 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report by The Outdoor Foundation, and the National Park Service reports that 2011 year-to-date visitation at National Parks is up nearly three percent from 2010. For those headed into the wilderness this summer, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) offers these timely tips for safe and memorable excursions. NOLS (www.nols.edu) is the premier teacher of outdoor skills and leadership in the world’s most spectacular wilderness classrooms, offering adventures for varying levels of outdoor experience (ages 14 and up).
- Get the right fit. Properly fitted backpacks and hiking boots are key to comfort and safety, preventing back injuries, blisters and potentially nasty falls. Remember the mantra: snug around the waist, loose in the toe. For more tips on selecting and adjusting packs and sizing boots, check out instructional videos from NOLS Teton Valley gear gurus and NOLS Rocky Mountain boot expert Kevin McGowan.
- Watch your step! According to NOLS, about 50 percent of all injuries in the wilderness are strains or sprains related to slips and falls. Take it slow at first, adjusting to the terrain and your pack’s weight before increasing your pace.
- Protect your provisions. Bears aren’t the only threat to an expedition’s food supply. Raccoons, squirrels, possums, skunks and even those cute little chipmunks will eagerly gnaw through your pack for unguarded trail mix. Depending on where you’re going, you may need either an animal-proof container, bear fence, or a light cord and reinforced stuff sack to hang your food. Learn more about protecting yourself and your provisions from bears and other animals from the U.S. Forest Service and NOLS.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water helps you cope with temperature extremes and high altitude, plus it’s a great natural mood enhancer. Drink plenty and develop an “eye for pee”–clear urine means you’re hydrated, dark urine means you’re not. Munch on salty snacks to keep sodium levels balanced. Make sure any water sourced in the backcountry is treated. Learn more about hydration and water treatment from the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS.
- Pack hats for all seasons. Protect yourself from sun with a shady brimmed hat and from the cold with a warm beanie–a hot day can quickly turn to a cold night in the great outdoors.
- Manage risk and look out for others. Know what hazards to expect and either be skilled in managing risks or be ready to back off–it’s okay to back off if something is too hard or too dangerous. Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Have an emergency plan in case someone gets hurt, and have a plan for how to get help. Know your group’s limits and establish a pace that suits everyone. Remember, helicopter rescues only look cool on television.
- Learn some “common sense.” Bring a map and compass or GPS and check them often. Don’t wait until you’re lost to use it. Check the weather forecast before you leave for your trip. Bring a first aid kit, and know how to use it.
- Make it an outdoor learning experience! Pack a slim-edition field guide to learn about the flora and fauna around you, and the constellations above you. Speak with locals for tips on things to do and sights to see.
- Care for the places you visit. Leave No Trace is a guideline of ethical use and behaviors in wild places, developed by NOLS in collaboration with Federal land managing agencies. More can be found online at www.nols.edu/lnt and www.lnt.org.
- Mix it up and keep it fun! Looking for a new adventure destination to prove your wilderness IQ? Check out the NOLS summer course catalog for inspiring expeditions–download it for free at www.nols.edu/catalog. NOLS summer courses include backpacking through the Rocky Mountains, sea kayaking in Australia and mountaineering through Alaska.
About the National Outdoor Leadership School:
Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS is the leader in wilderness education, providing awe-inspiring, transformative experiences to more than 15,000 students each year. These students, ages 14 to 70, learn in the wildest and most remote classrooms worldwide–from the Amazon rain forest, to rugged peaks in the Himalaya, to Alaskan glaciers and Arctic tundra. Graduates are active leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills. NOLS also offers customized courses through NOLS Professional Training, and the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS is the leading teacher of wilderness medicine worldwide. For more information, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit www.nols.edu.
SOURCE National Outdoor Leadership School