Safety First on Country Backroads
December 25th, 2015 by Curtis Condon
Skiing, hiking or biking where vehicle traffic may be present requires extra caution and attention to safety. Be aware of your surroundings, increase your vision and strive to be seen. Photo by iStock/gameover2012

Skiing, hiking or biking where vehicle traffic may be present requires extra caution and attention to safety. Be aware of your surroundings, increase your vision and strive to be seen. Photo by iStock/gameover2012

One of my favorite childhood memories is of my brothers and I cruising the backroads around our rural home on our bikes. However, it didn’t take long for us to learn that riding in the country—where shoulders are rocky and narrow, and bike lanes are rare or nonexistent—requires an extra level of vigilance.

The same is true for hiking or cross-country skiing where vehicles may be present.

In addition to the usual safety preparations—such as checking your equipment to ensure it is road ready—here are some other tips to make your country outings safer.

  • Be watchful. Country roads are often the first to show wear and tear, and the last to be repaired. Be on the alert for potholes, gravel, broken glass and the occasional aggressive dog.
  • Increase your vision. If you don’t already use one, buy a lightweight mirror that attaches to your hat, helmet or handlebars so you can see vehicles approaching from behind you.
  • Strive to be seen. Avoid wearing colors that blend in with your surroundings. Opt for bright colors. Better yet, invest in a high-visibility vest or jacket. If your trip takes you into early morning, evening or other low-light conditions, make sure you have lights of some kind in front and back to increase your visibility to drivers.

Outdoors 101: Just Add (Safe) Water
Cuts and abrasions are one of the most common outdoor injuries.

Back in the day, we were taught to clean the wound with available water, including water from nearby rivers, streams or lakes. That is no longer recommended, due to the possible presence of harmful bacteria or parasites.

Current practice is to assess the wound to determine if it needs to be cleaned. If it does, manually remove any dirt or debris, and wash the wound with bottled or treated drinking water.

Hiking With Four-Legged Companions
Planning is key when hiking with dogs. Be sure dogs are allowed where you plan to hike. Find out if there are limitations, such as restricted or leash-only areas. Determine your dog’s needs on the trail. Bring along plenty of food, water and tick repellant. Equip your dog with booties if it’s a tenderfoot or it will be hiking on hot, icy, abrasive or prickly terrain. Finally, remember to bring along those flimsy plastic bags for picking up you-know-what.

Celebrate the Outdoors
January 5: National Bird Day
January 7: Old Rock Day
January 21: Squirrel Appreciation Day

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.