Solo Wilderness Travel: emergency prevention and response


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Knowledge. The area visited and its conditions; personal limitations and health as well as medications for already existing conditions; wilderness experience that enables knowledge of strategies-needs-risks; adequate knowledge of emergency response and medicine.

Physical. Conditioning (incl. teeth), gear-food-fluids appropriate to anticipated conditions; adequate medical supplies.

Communication. Consider a communications device.


Precaution. Most important in solo hiking.

Attitude. Acknowledge the greater risk of solo. Anticipate risks. Practice meditation.

Water. Adequate intake for conditions. Kill parasites—iodine, boiling… (or filter).

Shelter, clothing, footwear—adequate for circumstances; gear in good condition. A four weather tent for winter conditions.

Hypothermia. Know early signs of (shivering, then mild confusion), avoid, take precaution against it (1) continuous exposure even in moderate 50-60 F (2) cold streams. Adequate shelter-clothing (water jacket, wet suit for water travel), rain gear food, and water are important in prevention and response.

Sunburn and overheating can be avoided by early / late travel, umbrella, hat.

Food should be adequate for duration and conditions.

Medicine etc.

Medical and repair kits—appropriate; especially narcotic pain, allergy / anaphylaxis meds; salt tabs.

Emergency. Be aware of threats; avoid / take precautions.

Fractures. Clean and dress. Improvise a splint. Take pain medication during hike out.

Sprains. Rest, old, compression (bandage), and elevation

Cramps. Restore water and electrolytes—two salt tabs.

Poison oak. Recognize / avoid.

Bites and stings. Have anaphylaxis kit. Understand rattlesnake behavior. Be prepared for a long walk if bitten. Bands and kits don’t work. Rabid animals are strange / aggressive. Wash bites with copious water, walk out, seek treatment

Animal threat and attack

Black bears. Avoid; new advice: if approached behave aggressively, shout, wave arms.

Mountain lion. Threaten, look tall, yell; if attacked fight back; don’t run.