Five Safety Tips for Fall

Published online: Oct 15, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Health Natalie Podgorski, Idaho Falls Community Hospital
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Fall is a beautiful time of year in the Snake River Valley. The weather is cooling down, the leaves on the trees are changing and animals are having their last hurrah before settling in for a long winter. Whether you like hiking, hunting, horseback riding or biking, fall is the perfect season to explore Idaho’s backcountry. 

“As an avid hunter, I always look forward to getting into the mountains during the fall,” said Dr. Joe Anderson, IFCH Emergency Department Physician and Chief of Medical Staff. “However, I know fall means shorter days, unpredictable weather and cold nights. Fortunately, most of these risks can be countered with good preparation and a bit of caution. We want to help our community think ahead to the challenges they may face, hopefully, help people avoid an unwanted visit to our emergency department.” 

Before you head out to the mountains, always check the weather forecast and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to come home. Make sure to pack warm clothes and a first aid kit, so you are ready to face whatever conditions come your way. 

Tips for Backcountry Safety

1. Share Your Itinerary 

Before you head into the mountains, tell a trusted family member or friend where you are going and when you plan to return. Send them a text message or email with as many details about where you are exploring as possible – even if you are just planning on being out for the day. If your plans change, make sure to let someone know before you are out of cell range. And always remember to let your loved ones know when you’ve made it home safely. 

2. Watch The Weather

Conditions can change quickly in the fall and you could find yourself facing rain or snow in a matter of minutes. Always take the time to look at the forecast before leaving your house. Remember, the weather can be harsher at higher elevations. So, pack warmer clothing if you plan to stay overnight and always have rain gear on hand, just in case there is an unexpected storm. Weather doesn’t just impact the type of clothes you need to bring along; it can alter the conditions you will find on the trails. A rainstorm can make a once simple stream into a treacherous river you need to cross. Stay aware and be open to altering your route depending on the conditions you face.

3. Be Mindful Of Hunting Season

Autumn is hunting season and requires everyone to be alert. If you can, avoid hiking in popular hunting spots. Always make sure you are wearing bright colored clothing, so you are easily visible. 

4. Follow Firearm Safety

If you are hunting, always make sure you treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Only point your gun where you plan to shoot and do not put your finger on the trigger until you are fully ready. Before shooting, look beyond your target to make sure there are no hazards or people in the way.   

5. Pack The 10 Essentials

Every time you head into the wilderness make sure you have the 10 essentials which includes a map and compass (it is equally important to know how to use them): headlamp, first aid kit, knife, some type of fire starter, sun protection, emergency shelter or space blanket (even on day trips), extra food, extra water and more warm clothes than you anticipate needing. It is also a good idea to bring along a GPS locator or another type of emergency communication device. Hopefully, you won’t need these supplies but if something goes awry you will be prepared. 

Following these tips can help increase your chances of staying safe in the backcountry. If you do run into trouble, remember the team at Idaho Falls Community Hospital is always standing by to help you get better. 


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