Georgia U. S. Forests Safety Tips - Your experience in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests can be a fun and safe one. Here are things you should be aware of during your visit to the forest. Enjoy!
Outdoor Camping and Hiking Safety Tips
The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip. Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, limitations of your body, plus a little common sense can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Travel with a companion. You don't want to be by yourself in case of an emergency. Tell someone where and when you are going, when you expect to return, and how many individuals are in your party.
Hiking Alone - Exercise the same caution you would anywhere else. On some isolated trails, help may be far away. Pay attention to your surroundings and the people you meet on the trail. Be alert and project an aura of confidence.
Be in good physical condition. Set a comfortable pace as you hike. A group trip should be designed for the weakest member of the group.
Think about your footing while traveling near cliffs. Trees and bushes can't always be trusted to hold you. Stay on developed trails or dry, solid rock areas with good footing.
Wear appropriate clothing for the trail conditions and season.
Check your equipment. Rock climbers should always safety check their equipment. Inexperienced climbers should have experienced members in their party. Using a helmet will lessen the chance of a head injury in the event of an accident./td>
Be weather wise. Keep an eye on current and predicted weather conditions. In this area, weather can change very quickly. Know the signs for approaching storms or changing weather conditions. Avoid bare ridge tops, exposed places, lone trees, streams, and rocks during lightning storms. Find shelter in a densely forested area at a lower elevation. Even in the summer, exposure to wind and rain can result in hypothermia.
Learn basic first aid so you will know how to identify and treat injuries and illnesses. Carry a first aid kit with you. Learn how to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, and dehydration, and know how to treat them.
Make camp before dark. Traveling after darkness has resulted in many accidents from falls, so travel only during daylight. Set up camp well away from the edge of cliffs, and learn the terrain during daylight. If you have to leave camp after dark, stay in areas you have seen in daylight, go with a friend, and always use a good flashlight.
Be alert for slippery areas and take your time to avoid tripping. Low-hanging branches and variable terrains make running unsafe, and leaves can hide slippery areas underneath.
Alcohol and cliffs don't mix! If you drink, stay away from the cliffs. Judgment, agility, and balance are all reduced by alcohol consumption.
Think before you drink stream water! No matter how clean or pure stream water looks, it's likely to contain water-borne parasites and microorganisms that can cause discomfort and sometimes serious illness. Pack your water in, or purify through chemical treatment.
Prevent Your Car From Being Broken In
As peaceful as the forest may seem, a few visitors may experience auto break-ins.
Lock your car. As simple as this seems, many people still forget.
Don't leave your travel plans on the windshield of your car. Thieves use this "window of opportunity" to break in, since they know you may not be nearby.
Leave your plans with the district office or someone at home. Include what trails you plan to hike and an estimate of your return time.
Don't leave valuables inside your car. If you must leave valuables, hide them from view or lock them in the trunk. Empty the glove compartment and leave it open to show that nothing is inside.
Don't park your car with the trunk backed toward the woods. This provides cover for someone trying to break into your trunk.
If your car has been vandalized, contact local law enforcement officials.
Pet Dog Safety Tips
On the Trail - If you bring your dog hiking, keep it under verbal or physical restraint at all times. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is a multiple-use forest, which means you and your dog may meet horseback riders, mountain bikers, and four-wheelers on the trail. Use a leash in crowded areas. Hiking is hard work for a dog, especially if it's not used to long hikes in hot weather. Watch your dog for signs of stress and fatigue, and give it plenty water and rest.
In the Campgrounds - dogs must be on a leash and under control. Tie your dog up in a shady spot and give it lots of attention to minimize barking.
If You Get Lost
All trails are marked with signs (where intersections meet) and diamond blazes or markers. However, signs are sometimes vandalized or stolen.
Pay close attention to your surroundings and landmarks, and relate this to your location on a map.
Stay calm if you get lost. Panic is your greatest enemy. Try to remember how you got to your present location.
Trust your map and compass, and do not walk aimlessly. Take it with you on the trail.
Stay put if it is nightfall, if you are injured, or if you are near exhaustion.
As a last resort, follow a drainage or stream downhill. This can be hard going but will often lead to a trail or road.