Saturday, July 21, 2012

Carry cell phone, FRS device when hiking

Carry a cell phone when on a day hike but don't always expect service.
When heading out on a trail in the wilds, even for a day hike, sometimes you can start to feel isolated. With no one else around and many miles away from civilization by road, this can be an unsettling feeling to say the least.

Fortunately, with technology you don’t have to feel so cut off.

When on a day hike, always bring a cell phone. Teach your children how to use 911 in case of an emergency, and make sure the batteries are fully charged. Be advised, though, that phone service can be spotty at best in the wilds.

A good back up is FRS – or Family Radio Station – which is a portable two-way walkie-talkie. Have at least two FRS devices in the party. A number of public agencies, especially in remote areas with a lot of hikers, monitor Channel 9 for emergencies.

Keep the cell phone and FRS devices in an easy to reach spot in your backpack. The top of the backpack or a special side pocket work well. It’s a good idea if bringing both a cell phone and FRS device to have different people carry them; should one person’s backpack by lost (such as swept away in a flash flood), you’ll then still have a way to call for help.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.