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Backcountry Safety Tips
Plan to be off mountain tops by noon during summer months to avoid lightning. Always watch for signs of an incoming storm, and be willing to turn back if necessary.
Be aware that the temperature drops four degrees for every 1000 feet of elevation gain. Be prepared with proper clothing, and watch yourself and your companions for signs of hypothermia such as uncontrollable shivering, loss of coordination, confusion, and slowed speech.
Don't hike or climb alone! Although cell phones can be good to have in an emergency, don't rely on them; you may not get a signal when you most need one.
Always wear a helmet in areas with rockfall hazard, and belay any climb with a risk of injury.
The only cure for altitude sickness is to descend. Don't wait for it to become serious.
Always carry a map and compass and know how to use them. A GPS can be useful, but is no substitute for planning and preparation. Pay attention to planning your return route, and if you become seriously lost, stay where you are and bivouac.
Always carry the "10 Essentials" of backcountry travel. Carry a whistle too; it will travel much further than the sound of your voice.
For winter travel, take an avalanche class. Follow basic rules for avalanche safety, such as crossing slopes one at a time; always carrying a beacon, shovel and probe (and knowing how to use them); and watching for signs of unstable snow such as humping and cracking, collapsing layers, and recent avalanche activity.
Teach your kids what to do if they get lost in the woods; stay put and blow a whistle.