USDA tips for staying safe while hiking over holiday weekend

National News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service is reminding hikers that ranger stations in Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests will be closed on Labor Day, and visitors will be responsible for staying safe.

With that in mind, rangers offered the following tips:

  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Bring a map and a compass and know how to use them.
  • Bring plenty of water, as well as a first aid kit.
  • Wear good hiking shoes and appropriate clothing for the season.
  • Check current and expected weather conditions before reaching your destination, and plan accordingly.
  • Keep your distance from local wildlife.
  • Pace yourself and know your limits; take breaks to prevent exhaustion.
  • Heed all posted warning signs at waterfalls.
  • Never jump off waterfalls or dive into waterfall pools. Unseen hazards may lurk below the surface.
  • Never go into the water upstream from a waterfall- the current can pull you over the edge.
  • Enjoy waterfalls from a distance.

Physical safety is not the only thing to consider when enjoying the forests. Rangers are asking people to remember the following tips to keep themselves and the environment healthy:

  • Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick.
  • Follow the CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing.
  • Stay at least six feet apart from others. This should include any dog on a leash.
  • Stay out of closed areas and check https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/scnfs/home to see if your destination is open before you visit.
  • Take your trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators.
  • Please make arrangements to use restrooms before or after your visit to the forest. Not all sites on the national forests have restroom facilities (or some may be closed). Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for our employees and for other visitors.
  • If an area is crowded, look for a less occupied location or return at a later time. Consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods.

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