Questions that discuss about precautions need to be taken for ensuring the safety in various outdoor activities that are in scope of The Great Outdoors should be tagged with this tag.

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42
votes
5answers
21k views

Is drinking urine safe?

We've all heard stories about how people saved their lives by drinking their urine. Is drinking urine safe when there are no other water sources available? Can I filter it with a water purifier?
41
votes
8answers
2k views

How should I remove a tick?

If I find a tick on myself or a friend, what is the best way of removing it? I've heard some people say that singeing the tick with a match makes the tick detach and fall off. However I've also ...
39
votes
8answers
5k views

What is the safest way to purify water?

There are a number of ways to purify water, off the top of my head we have filters, iodine, and boiling. Clearly each has some advantage/disadvantage (iodine tastes terrible, boiling takes time). ...
35
votes
6answers
1k views

Backpacking or hiking in areas open to hunting

A lot of areas that are good for hiking or backpacking are also popular hunting grounds. I am an avid backpacker and hiker, but I do not know much about hunting. How do I find out what is the ...
32
votes
4answers
6k views

Can I use a bicycle helmet as a climbing helmet?

I have a bicycle helmet that fits well. Can it be used effectively as a rock climbing helmet? Most climbing helmets have a hard shell that the bicycle helmet does not. However, one of the more ...
29
votes
3answers
6k views

Is it possible to rappel with only a rope? (No harness, Prusik cord, or other gear)

There may be an emergency situation where I find myself needing to lower myself but with no or damaged equipment. Assuming I only have a rope, can I lower myself to safe ground?
28
votes
3answers
1k views

If I have to cross an icy, flowing river, what are some ways I can cross safely?

If I'm alone in a survival situation and I have to cross a very cold river that's still flowing, how should I accomplish this safely?
26
votes
6answers
1k views

What precautions should I take to protect myself and my camp from bears?

Most of my prior hiking experience has been in areas that are not home to bears, so what precautions should I take to protect my camp (and myself as I am hiking) from bears. I am aware of a couple of ...
25
votes
2answers
1k views

What makes certain mountains more dangerous than others?

Why do mountains like K2, Nanga Parbat and Annapurna (36 successful attempts, 47 failed) have higher fatality rates than, say, Everest or Cho Oyu (79 successful attempts, 28 failed)? (source) Can I ...
23
votes
7answers
4k views

What is the best way to cross streams while backpacking?

I'm curious of a good technique to cross a stream while backpacking that's above the boot's waterproof line but no higher than the knees. I typically face upstream and use my hiking poles for ...
23
votes
1answer
1k views

Why do shin splints happen?

I've gotten shin splints on long hikes - once 2 weeks into a hike, and another time 2 months. I wasn't able to determine how I got them though, which has really annoyed me! I get that I could ...
22
votes
9answers
58k views

How to warm up your cold toes and fingers?

In winter your hand and feet (especially toes and fingers) may get painfully cold or you may even stop feeling them. How can you warm them up? This usually happens, when it's below 0°С or when it's ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

Wild camping in subsaharan Africa - madness, blasphemy, or bearable?

What potential dangers / precautions one should take into account when sleeping outside in sub-Saharan Africa? (Let alone countries with unstable political situations.) Just with a sleeping bag, maybe ...
20
votes
7answers
5k views

How dangerous is a band of coyotes to a lone, unarmed human?

There's a delightful thrill to the call of a band of coyotes when you're alone in the dark woods. Do they present a danger? That is, have healthy coyotes (that is, not rabid) been known to attack or ...
20
votes
7answers
4k views

Cheese and eggs on backpacking trips

I have taken some hard cheeses onto backpacking trips quite successfully without spoilage, but I have not dared taking more than I can eat in about 3 days. Eggs I have not dared to take. I am ...
20
votes
2answers
815 views

Surviving a forest fire by starting another fire

Awhile back I heard on CBC radio about a man who got trapped in a forest fire (surrounded on all sides) and survived. The way he survived was so ridiculous that he was brought to court and almost ...
19
votes
5answers
2k views

How bad do circumstances need to be before activating a PLB?

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) can be carried during outdoor activities to use in case of an emergency. But are there any guidelines on what exactly constitutes an "emergency"? For example, what ...
19
votes
1answer
635 views

Putting in contact lenses when outdoors

I am wearing contact lenses on a daily basis. Many times, when outdoors, I cannot put in my contact lenses (because of limited time or just no sterile conditions). Is there any cleaner I could safely ...
19
votes
1answer
406 views

Do I need to worry about feral dogs or even wolves if I camp in random areas while hitchhiking in Georgia (the country)?

After almost half a year working in a hostel in Tbilisi, spring has come and it is far warmer than anywhere further west in Europe so I'm going to hitchhike around Georgia with my tent in warm areas. ...
18
votes
5answers
474 views

When sailing, how do I rescue a man overboard?

If someone falls overboard from a sailboat, it is firstly imperative not to lose sight of the person since finding a man in water, especially when there's waves, can be very difficult. What ...
17
votes
4answers
615 views

How can you prevent kids getting lost at night while camping?

When camping in more remote areas with young kids, how can you make sure they don't take a stroll and get lost in the middle of the night? We won't be near lights, established "bathrooms", etc. The ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Where in the Alps is it safe to drink the water without filtering?

In some places, the Swedish Lappland for example, it's perfectly fine and even recommended to drink water directly from streams. Is it also recommended whilst hiking in the Alps, and if so is it only ...
17
votes
3answers
453 views

How should I check climbing equipment to tell whether it is still safe to use?

I have, unfortunately, not had the opportunity to go climbing (and thus use my climbing equipment) for a couple years. I know that such equipment, especially the rope and webbing, can degrade over ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Can groundwater still be consumed if after boiling the water turns brown with an oily substance floating on top?

This weekend we went "pole camping". A pole camp site (dutch link only) is a camp site offered by the departments of forestry in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is very basic. What is offered is a ...
16
votes
4answers
679 views

Walking up the slopes. To walk brisk or to walk slow?

This question has been eating my head for quite some time now. I trek often and most of the treks involve climbing up to a peak or something similar. I usually carry heavy loads of around 13-15kgs on ...
16
votes
2answers
346 views

Micro-Fractures in Climbing Equipments

I have always been very careful while handling climbing gear. Last year while returning from an expedition, I met a group that was returning from a tough-looking climb. They were selling off a few of ...
16
votes
2answers
369 views

Can I sail a raft on a European river with commercial traffic?

I'm thinking about sailing a part of the Danube, alone, on a self-built raft. I have no experience sailing rivers on any serious basis. I'm considering a raft for a number of reasons: It's cheap. ...
15
votes
5answers
6k views

How to check if a fence or cable has electricity without having special tools?

You run across a wire cable, or wire fence in the wild, with which you would have to interact in some way. How to check if electricity runs through it without having special tools? EDIT: As the ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

What formation to best survive a flood?

I just heard of an incident where a group of people were caught unprepared by a flood. It is known as the "Bulacan State University Field Trip", Looking at the images online, I couldn't help but ...
15
votes
3answers
997 views

What do you do if the fire does get “out of control”?

Let's say you are camping with a large group, and someone starts a camp fire. You're away for a bit and come back to find everyone panicking and the fire to be much larger than actually planned (ie, ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it safe to cut a climbing rope in half?

I recently bought a 70 meter climbing rope from REI because it was a great price on the outlet. Last weekend I used it for the first time in the Texas hill country, where 99% of routes need a rope ...
15
votes
6answers
3k views

Why do many climbers appear to not trust their belay loops?

The belay loop is the strongest part of the climbing harness, so why do so many climbers not trust it? It’s very common to see climbers backing up their belay loop with a separate piece of webbing or ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it a bad idea to dry clothes by the fire?

Is there too great a chance of accidentally setting your only pair of undies on fire? What about putting the undies on a hot rock? Or would the rock explode ...
15
votes
2answers
668 views

How to inspect climbing bolts?

I am most interested in setting up a top rope anchor on 2 bolts side by side. I feel like in this case you almost have to be more careful using bolts for a top rope than sport climbing because in ...
15
votes
3answers
661 views

How safe is it to hike alone?

Should a woman legitimately fear to be assaulted or raped on popular backpacking trails in the US when hiking by herself? How common are attacks of that nature? How does it compare to residential ...
15
votes
2answers
338 views

How can I tell if a natural snow-bridge is safe to cross?

In early summer in the high mountains, snowfields may lie over rivers. These rivers may be otherwise tricky to ford, and it can be very tempting to use the snowfield to cross the river. However, ...
15
votes
1answer
302 views

Is backcountry hiking in northwestern Russia safe?

Is it safe to go backcountry hiking in the Tundra's of northwestern Russia, e.g. the Kola peninsula, such as the Khibin mountains? There is some heavy industry around there; can one safely go around, ...
14
votes
9answers
11k views

How far would you need to fall for it to be fatal?

A little grim this but I was discussing free soloing with a non-climber in work and I said "Well once you get over a certain height you're not going to survive a fall anyway so anything over ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it safe to be in a vehicle during lightning/thunderstorms?

Recently a friend and I were offroading in the local mountains and while ascending a trail a storm blew in. We were out in the open near the top of the mountain when lightning started. We weren't sure ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Is my tent pole a lightning rod?

I have used the Mega Mid tent almost exclusively for hundreds of nights out over the last many years. It's versatile, well ventilated, light... but has this pole sticking straight up the middle. Is ...
14
votes
3answers
622 views

How safe is sleeping in bear country?

We have recently hiked in Slovakian mountains where bears live. I’m not too concerned about the bears during the day, as we make enough noise to avoid an encounter. But I am not sure about sleeping ...
14
votes
1answer
5k views

Is it safe to use denatured alcohol as an antiseptic?

A lot of hikers carry denatured alcohol for cooking. Is there any risk to using it as an antiseptic for cuts and lacerations?
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Making a Make-Shift harness from Tape-Slings

I have some common knowledge about knots used for Climbing and Rope-care. There was an incident last week, where I needed a Seat-Harness which I didn't have with me. I needed one for tying up a ...
13
votes
3answers
296 views

What precautions are needed for caving

I have been hiking/mountaineering for quite a few years now. But, I have never been into a deep cave as yet. We are planning to explore a natural cave that we'll have to rappel into. The cave is ...
13
votes
6answers
6k views

Is it safe to drink out of a rusty thermos?

I've got a thermos for coffee and/or water storage that I use on hikes and for bike touring since it keeps things hot for hours. However, it seems like the inside is rusting a bit. Is this safe to ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

Are fires in natural caves/overhangs safe?

I have heard that a fire in a cave or under an overhang can cause a rock collapse, potentially injuring the occupant. Is this a real risk?
13
votes
3answers
265 views

What are the critical dimensions to a safe bear-bag?

Many outdoor areas that have bears have bear bag-lines setup for hikers. In situations where the bear-bag line is not there or it is full, what dimensions should I keep in mind to protect my goodies ...
13
votes
3answers
337 views

What steps should I take if someone starts sinking?

What are the steps that should be taken if someone you're hiking with starts to sink uncontrollably into say a marsh? What are some good techniques and points that should be used to get them out ...
13
votes
3answers
469 views

Sailing with a child

Inspired by this question on taking an infant sailing, as it is quite different when they can move, I thought I'd ask the same question in respect of a toddler or child. What essential safety ...
13
votes
2answers
410 views

How to prepare for and survive wildfire?

In some areas, such as the western US, wildfires are common during the summer dry season. "Fire safety" advice usually centers on not starting a wildfire, e.g. extinguishing or avoiding campfires. ...