Outdoor recreation, such as hiking, camping, canoeing, cycling, or skiing, entails risks, even if participants do not recklessly place themselves in harm's way. In some circumstances, such as being in remote locations or in extreme weather conditions, even a minor accident may create a dangerous situation that requires survival skills. However, with correct precautions, even fairly adventurous outdoor recreation can be enjoyable and safe.
Every hazard has its own safety measure, and every ailment a particular remedy. A standard precaution for all back country activities is carrying the "ten essentials", a collection of tools chosen for their utility in preventing or reacting to various emergencies.
The common practice of traveling in a group improves safety in all regards. If one person is injured, group members can administer first aid or seek help. A group can avoid poor decisions that a lone traveler might make. If an emergency occurs, a group can pool its muscle power, brain power, and body heat.
Another precaution is informing people outside of the group of the itinerary and expected return time (expected hiking time can be estimated using Naismith's rule). A communication device, such as a cell phone or a satellite phone, may help in the case of an emergency. However, with the exception of mountain tops that are in line-of-sight to populated areas, cell phone coverage in wilderness areas is often quite poor. In the wilderness one should always be prepared to hike out for help, if necessary.
Blizzards, flash floods, fog, dust or sandstorms, tornados, and other meteorological events may or may not be predictable, and may require immediate response for survival. Lightning is a frequent and serious threat in many regions.:155
Backcountry avalanches are generally triggered by the immediate action of the party. Precautions include training, monitoring weather conditions to learn the history of the snow pack, digging hasty pits, modifying the route, passing one-by-one through dangerous areas, wearing avalanche beacons, and carrying avalanche probes and snow shovels. Other non-avalanche snow immersions can be similarly dangerous, including tree wells.
Other mass movements include icefalls, landslides, and rockfalls.:57,65 When choosing a campsite care must be taken to avoid those along with dead trees, snags, trees with large dead branches, or trees that have previously been through a forest fire. Collectively, these are called "widowmakers" by experienced campers.
Slips may occur:
When travelling over glaciers, crevasses pose a grave danger. These giant cracks in the ice are not always visible, as snow can be blown and freeze over the top to make a snowbridge. At times snowbridges can be as thin as a few inches. Climbers and hikers use ropes to protect themselves from such hazards. Basic gear for glacier travel includes crampons and ice axes, and teams of two to five tie into a rope equally spaced. If someone begins to fall the other members of the team perform a self-arrest to stop the fall and then attempt a rescue.
Drownings are especially likely when accompanied by head injuries (which may render people unconscious), in very cold water (which can sap energy quickly), or in white water (which may be so frothy that it is impossible to float, or even swim, to the surface).
When walking beaches or crossing estuaries, it is essential to be aware of the tides.
Individuals encountered in the outdoors may not always be friendly and in some cases may pose a danger to outdoor recreationalists. These can take the case of robberies, sexual assault, or other attacks.
Travelers may become lost, either if a group cannot find its way or if an individual becomes separated from the party and cannot find it again. Lost hikers who cannot find their way to their destination on time may run out of food and water, or experience a change in weather. The absence of clearly marked trails increases the risk of losing one's way.
If a group splits up into several subgroups moving at different speeds, one of the subgroups may take a wrong turn at a trail junction. A common procedure to avoid this is for the leaders to stop at junctions and wait for the others. Keeping the group together is important in the wilderness, especially when visibility is blocked due to weather, rocks, or trees.
Carrying a map and compass, and knowing how to use them, will decrease the risk of getting lost. Likewise, a Global Positioning System may prove invaluable, as it can pinpoint a traveler's location, revealing his exact position and the direction to roads, services, and inhabited areas. Most GPS devices can also be designed to mark one's path on a map, making it easy to backtrack. Family Radio Service, General Mobile Radio Service, and amateur radios operating on the "2 meters" band may help maintain communication. Flashing lights, signal mirrors, and whistles are low-tech emergency signals.
Without a distant focal point, such as a mountain top, or the sun or moon, people who are lost can sometimes wander in circles.
Metabolic imbalances can affect general functioning and lead to other injuries.
In many areas, adventurers may encounter large predatory animals such as bears or cougars. These animals rarely seek out humans as food, but they will attack under some conditions. Some hazardous encounters occur when animals raid human property for food. Additionally, if travelers come upon an unsuspecting animal and surprise it, it may attack. Regularly making loud noise, such as by clapping or yelling, reduces the risk of surprising an animal. Some people use bear bells as noisemakers, but these are usually too quiet to be heard from far away. Any mammal infected with rabies may behave unexpectedly, even aggressively, and could infect a human with rabies by biting.
Venomous animals, including snakes, scorpions, spiders and bees, may cause harm either directly or through anaphylactic shock. Overall, the greatest danger is often from insects, such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, which carry communicable diseases.
When combined with lack of proper physical conditioning, cumbersome backpacks increase the risk of missteps and falls, particularly on difficult terrain. Poor judgment due to exhaustion or inattention on steep or slippery slopes can also lead to injury.
Surface water in the wilderness can contain viruses, bacteria or parasites. The latter two can cause dysentery or wilderness diarrhea in untreated water and can be spread person-to-person by poor hygiene in camp. The most common cause of wilderness diarrhea is the parasite Giardia.
Bicycle safety is the use of road traffic safety practices to reduce risk associated with cycling. Risk can be defined as the number of incidents occurring for a given amount of cycling. In many countries both the number of incidents and the amount of cycling (expressed in kilometers, hours or trips) are not well known. Non-fatal accidents often go unreported and bicycle use is only occasionally monitored. Some of this subject matter is hotly debated: for example, the discussions as to whether bicycle helmets or cyclepaths really improve safety. The merits of obeying the rules of the road including the use of bicycle lighting at night are less controversial.Exposure (heights)
Exposure is a climbing and hiking term. Sections of a hiking path or climbing route are described as "exposed" if there is a high risk of injury in the event of a fall because of the steepness of the terrain. If such routes are negotiated without any protection, a false step can result in a serious fall.
The negotiation of such routes can cause fear of falling because of the potential danger.High-altitude pulmonary edema
High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a life-threatening form of non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs) that occurs in otherwise healthy people at altitudes typically above 2,500 meters (8,200 ft). However, cases have also been reported between 1,500–2,500 metres or 4,900–8,200 feet in more vulnerable subjects.
Classically, HAPE occurs in persons normally living at low altitude who travel to an altitude above 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). Re-entry HAPE is also an entity that has been described in persons who normally live at high altitude but who develop pulmonary edema after returning from a stay at low altitude.There are many factors that can make a person more susceptible to developing HAPE, including genetic factors, but detailed understanding is lacking and currently under investigation. HAPE remains the major cause of death related to high-altitude exposure, with a high mortality rate in the absence of adequate emergency treatment.Hiking
Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails (footpaths), in the countryside, while the word walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, the word "walking" is acceptable to describe all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps. The word hiking is also often used in the UK, along with rambling (a slightly old-fashioned term), hillwalking, and fell walking (a term mostly used for hillwalking in northern England). The term bushwalking is endemic to Australia, having been adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping. It is a popular activity with numerous hiking organizations worldwide, and studies suggest that all forms of walking have health benefits.Outdoor recreation
Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation engaged in out of doors, most commonly in natural settings. The activities themselves — such as fishing, hunting, backpacking, and horseback riding — characteristically determine where they are practiced.
They are pursued variously for enjoyment, exercise, challenge, camaraderie, spiritual renewal, and an opportunity to partake in nature. Though the activities are inherently lean to sports they nonetheless do not all demand that a participant be an athlete, and competition generally is less stressed than in individual or team sports organized into opposing squads in pursuit of a trophy or championship.
When the activity involves exceptional excitement, physical challenge, or risk, it is sometimes referred to as "adventure recreation" or "adventure training", rather than an extreme sport.
Other traditional examples of outdoor recreational activities include hiking, camping, mountaineering, cycling, canoeing, caving, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, running, sailing, skiing, sky diving and surfing. As new pursuits, often hybrids of prior ones, emerge, they gain their own identities, such as coasteering, canyoning, and fastpacking.Reindeer hunting in Greenland
Reindeer hunting in Greenland is of great importance to the Kalaallit (Greenland Inuit) and sporting hunters, both residents and tourists. Reindeer (caribou) are an important source of meat, and harvesting them has always played an important role in the history, culture, and traditions of the Greenland Inuit. Controlled hunting is important for the welfare of reindeer, the quality of life for Inuit, and the preservation of tundra grazing areas. Therefore, scientific research is regularly performed to determine the quotas needed to maintain a proper ecological balance. Reindeer hunting is a multifaceted and challenging experience involving potential risks as well as personal rewards.Wheeler Peak Glacier
Wheeler Peak Glacier is a glacier situated at the base of Wheeler Peak within Great Basin National Park in the U.S. state of Nevada. It has been called the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere but is much further north than Mount Everest and glaciers of the Himalaya and also further north than Palisade Glacier in California. At a height of 13,063 feet (3,982 m) Wheeler Peak is the tallest mountain in the Snake Range and the second tallest mountain in Nevada. The mountain top is also considered to be a horn, a peak carved and shaped by glaciers over a long period of time.
The Wheeler Peak glacier can be considered an alpine glacier which started melting at 9,000 feet (2,700 m) and the effects of the glacier can easily be seen by observing the pathways (slopes, canyons, and streams) that the melting glacial water has cut through over several years. The glacier is also unique in that it contains many rocks and minerals, including limestone (found in the Lehman Caves), marble, sandstone, shale, quartzite, granite, aragonite, moonmilk, and gypsum.