Conquering the outdoors…safely

Blacksburg, Va, April 2-Huckleberry Trail: Taking on the great outdoors can create lasting memories. Follow these tips to ensure those memories are good ones! Photo: Becky Shumar


by Becky Shumar–

Warm weather is rolling in! Many outdoorsy people are strapping on their hiking boots and running shoes to take on the trails. But staying safe while exploring nature is just as important as finding the perfect shoes that will not give blisters.

“We always recommend anything that you do in the cold months you do in the warmers months,” said Daniel Guilliams, Community Services Officer at Virginia Tech. “Of course it’s lighter outside, everyone is going to be out more, but pay attention to your surroundings, always pay attention to your surroundings, things change in a heartbeat.”

The New River Valley is full of opportunities to safely take in the great outdoors. Making it back home in one piece is as easy as taking a few simple precautions.

If at all possible, always walk in groups, especially at night. Carrying emergency items like pepper spray and a small first aid kit may be a nuisance, but they could save a life.

“If you have to have medicine, take your medicine,” said Guilliams. “Because you don’t know, you may get stuck, something may cause you to need that medicine right away and you can’t get back to it.”

It is important to have a fully charged cell phone when starting out on an adventure so help can be reached quickly in emergency situations. But don’t get too engrossed in music or social media. This can lead to losing track of the trail or a twisted ankle.

But for an adventurer who prefers to walk alone, there is a free app that can be used on a smartphone that will let a friend or family member virtually walk with you. The LiveSafe app allows someone to track a person’s location.

“We always recommend people get this app when they come to Virginia Tech,” said Guilliams. “It’s a great way for roommates to check in with each other when they go out downtown or on the trails.”

Officer Guilliams says most injuries he has encountered from hikers and bikers are as a result of people going where they should not. Avoid trespassing, leaving the trail and construction sites.

But if worst comes to worst, Virginia’ Tech’s campus and surrounding areas, such as the Huckleberry Trail, have blue light phones. If assistance is needed, simply press the button on the front of the phone and the call will be directly connected to a 911 operator. The phones are strategically placed so if a victim feels unsafe staying in one place, they can run from phone to phone while an operator is watching.

Exploring the great outdoors can be a great way to blow off steam after a long week. Use common sense, be aware of your surroundings and follow these safety tips so you can soak in the sun day after day.

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