We believe this is the most important piece to any adventure, whether a road trip, a hike, a swim, or a walk down the road. Safety planning is imperative and without adequate safety measures in place an adventure can turn perilous quickly. Safety planning takes many forms and can utilize many tools. There are excellent trainers out there and we are happy to connect you with them should you feel the need to advance your safety planning.
For reference this article is written by Galen Blodgett, a former Security Officer trained in Active Shooter Defense, former Correctional Officer with the State of Vermont, trained in First Aid, CPR, wilderness first aid, certified Range Safety Officer and woodsy-guy. These credentials do not make me an expert and we highly recommend you research a variety of sources while developing your safety plan. This guide is from my opinion in the research and knowledge I’ve gained from trained experts and experience in the field. Should you require (and we recommend this) additional knowledge or training we will gladly connect you with reputable trainers and sources.
The First Line Of Defense Is Your Mind
Before you enter into a situation you have the cognitive ability to gauge what tools and plans you may need to stay safe. Assess the area you’re traveling to, research it on the internet, ask others what they know. If you’re going into the deep woods will you have cell service? Where are navigational sources to guide you back to civilization? Are there predators you’ll need to defend yourself against including potentially hostile persons?
Ask what situations may arise and prepare for them accordingly. Have a primary, secondary and tertiary exit strategy. Understand and assess your landscape before setting up camp.
Have a working knowledge of the area you’re in and what needs to happen to defend yourself against your most likely threat.
Trust Your Gut
Gavin De Becker (The Gift of Fear) describes instinct and intuition as the “Body’s ability to go from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way.” You have been given the gift of assessing situations subconsciously without needing to think. In a nutshell, if your gut tells you something is wrong it is better to walk (or run) away and appear foolish than to end up in peril. Trust your instincts if something just doesn’t feel right, investigate further and attempt to remove yourself from the situation if necessary.
Have a Communication Plan...and a Backup Communication Plan
Carry a cell phone. If you’re out far enough carry a handheld ham radio and have a working knowledge of its use. Most importantly let people know where you plan to be at what times, when you plan to return and what to do if you’re not back by then.
Be Situationally Aware
Situational awareness is the biggest factor in preventing perilous situations. Stay alert to your surroundings and in touch with your senses. Be sure to look, listen and smell as you travel along.
If you sense something but are unsure, give pause and investigate from a distance. Perhaps this is an opportunity to replan and redirect to stay safe.
Carry First Aid
And have a working knowledge of how to utilize this important tool. A great way to familiarize yourself with your kit and its contents is to purchase each item based on the chance of use (you'll probably utilize adhesive bandages but may not need that nasopharyngeal airway. You may want burn cream but might not need chest seals...). Be sure to purchase quality first aid items, as your or someone else's life could depend on it.
Generally speaking our adventure kits contain the basics (adhesive bandages, gauze pads, rolled gauze, tweezers, etc) and compressed SAM splits.
Train in the Use Of All Tools
You can train your mind in situational awareness and tune your senses all the time at no cost. We should be constantly practicing this as it’s forgotten and we learn to ignore it in the modern world. Retune yourself to trust your instincts.
If you carry first aid have a working knowledge of what is in your kit, when and how to use it. Ideally take a first aid/CPR course but at least do your research so you know how to handle these situations.
We will not advise or dissuade you to carry less lethal or lethal means of self defense. We will say that if you choose to do this find a reputable trainer and be thoroughly trained in their use. We can’t stress that enough.
Lastly, do not let anxiety dictate your course of travel. Anxiety is a tool, often confused with fear, and is like a smoke alarm. It goes off to let you know something might be wrong but sometimes you need to shut that thing off and keep cooking. Conquering your anxiety is the first step in discovering all sorts of new cool stuff.