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Hiking is a great way to exercise, get some fresh air and experience the beauty of nature. To prepare for a safe hike, whether on local trails or at a vast national park, remember these 10 quick safety tips from the U.S. Forest Service:

1. Stay on marked trails. Obtain a trail map to help you plan your route based on your ability, available time and interest.

2. Don’t hike alone. Let the slowest person in your party set the pace. This is especially important when children are a part of your group.

3. Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member, and check in with the person upon your return.

4. Develop an emergency plan before you start your trip. Make sure all hikers in your group know what to do if they become lost or a medical emergency arises. Give children whistles with the instructions to “stop and blow” if they become lost.

5. Take frequent rests or vary your pace to maintain your energy.

6. Drink plenty of water, even on cool, wet days. Never drink your entire supply between refills.

7. Wear appropriate clothing, including sturdy boots that are broken in and comfortable.

8. Consider using a hiking pole or walking stick to help maintain your balance.

9. Be aware of your surroundings, and pre-plan your approach before hiking through more hazardous areas. Wet surfaces can be a hazard and even more so if there’s a slope.

10. If you’re on a day hike, extra weight wears you down and reduces your agility over uneven terrain. Pack as light as possible. Leave the extras behind, but consider bringing these essentials:

  • Map.
  • Sunglasses and a hat.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Flashlight.
  • Waterproof matches.
  • First aid kit.
  • Water and water-purifying tablets.
  • High-energy bars, granola, candy or fruit.
  • Extra clothing. Temperatures can change dramatically, particularly if there is an elevation change. For every 1,000 feet of elevation gain, the temperature often drops three to five degrees.

Before embarking on a hike, make sure to follow these tips to help ensure a safe journey that you and everyone in your group can enjoy.

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