Lt. Todd Bogardus, NHFG: (603) 744-5470
Rebecca Oreskes, WMNF: (603) 528-8757
Jane Vachon, NHFG: (603) 271-3211
May 21, 2007

Safe Hiking Is No Accident: Are You Packing the 10 Essentials?

The hikeSafe website has recently been updated for the upcoming hiking season with a new look, additional information and an interactive area for young kids.

CONCORD, N.H. -- As Memorial Day weekend approaches, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts are gearing up to head onto the trails in New Hampshire's White Mountains and other scenic areas. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the White Mountain National Forest remind everyone to have fun and stay safe by brushing up on the hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code before embarking on outdoor adventures this summer.

"Planning ahead and following safe hiking principles will make it much less likely that you'll need to call on rescue services for help," said Lt. Todd Bogardus of Fish and Game, the agency responsible for coordinating wilderness rescues in the state. Recent heavy rains have deposited lots of water into the backcountry and some brook crossings may be treacherous, he said. Weather is another key concern: be sure to check the local forecast before heading out; weather is always unpredictable in the mountains.

The hikeSafe principles are aimed at teaching those new to hiking -- as well as experienced hikers -- the basics of proper planning, preparation and self-responsibility. Everyone heading out for a hike should at least carry the ten essential items to help avoid trouble or assist if they encounter difficulties: map, compass, warm clothing, extra food and water, flashlight or headlamp, matches/firestarters, first aid kit/repair kit, whistle, rain/wind gear and a pocket knife. Does your gear include the ten essentials?

You'll also want to protect yourself from abundant ticks in the state this year. Wear bright clothing, tuck your pant legs into your socks, apply insect repellents that contain DEET and check yourself and your children for ticks after spending time outside. Reducing the chance of tick bites cuts down your potential exposure to Lyme disease.

Before heading out on the trail, click to visit to learn more about the hikeSafe program and find more safe hiking tips. The hikeSafe website has been recently updated for the upcoming hiking season with a new look, additional information and an interactive area for young kids. Help promote the hikeSafe principles while out on the trails by spreading the hikeSafe message to fellow hikers.

You are responsible for yourself, so be prepared:

1. With knowledge and gear. Become self-reliant by learning about terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

2. Leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you'll return and your emergency plans.

3. Stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.

4. Turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.

5. Prepare for emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just and hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don't assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

6. Share the hiker code with others.

hikeSafe - There and Back - It's Your Responsibility!

hikeSafe(r) and the Hiker Responsibility Code(r) is a joint educational initiative that was developed and is endorsed by the White Mountain National Forest and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. All hikeSafe materials and logos are copyright and registered trademarks of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

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