On May 22, when a family taking a bike trek through the 6,000-acre Manorville Hills County Park got lost and their cellphone died, seventh precinct officers from the Suffolk County Police Department were able to find the family without further incident, according to a Newsday report. Though a larger disaster was averted, incidents like these underscore the need to take precautions when exploring the great outdoors, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a timely set of tips for exactly that purpose.
"Preparing for potential dangers and changing weather conditions and knowing your limits before hiking into the back country can mean the difference between life and death," D.E.C. commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. "To protect yourself and others, I'm encouraging outdoor adventurers to plan ahead and make smart decisions to prevent accidents before they occur."
The D.E.C.'s advice includes choosing moisture-wicking attire over cotton clothing to help regulate body temperature, wearing a hat and sunglasses, and dressing in layers of light-colored clothing to be able to easily see ticks. Comfortable, sturdy footwear is a must, and flip-flops are to be avoided.
Other important gear includes a watch or other reliable timekeeping device and trekking poles, which "reduce leg fatigue and joint pain." On that list are a compass, map, or GPS with extra batteries; water and high-protein snacks; extra socks and undergarments; a waterproof and windproof jacket; a first-aid kit; a flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries; a pocket knife; matches in a waterproof container, and sunscreen and bug repellant.
With regard to water, the D.E.C. advises bringing at least two liters of water per person and "more than you think you will need." Emergency shelter essentials, such as a tent, tarp, or blanket, are also recommended.
The D.E.C.'s full list of essential clothes, equipment, and tools, along with videos about outdoor safety, can be found here.