An Outdoor Safety Guide
The outdoors is a beautiful, magical place full of wondrous opportunities to explore yourself and the Earth. CHAOS’ community strives to make access to nature easy, safe, and affordable to as many people as possible. However, given how large our club is, we want to make sure that you take appropriate safety precautions before embarking on a trip with fellow CHAOS members. That is why we put together this guide:
HOW TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE WHEN ORGANIZING, JOINING, AND GOING ON OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
KNOW THE PERSON/PEOPLE BEHIND THE TRIP:
Officer-organized trips are not the only opportunity to get yourself outside and movin’ on the email list and Discord. Member-led trips can be some of the best experiences you’ve had in your entire life, but remember that CHAOS is a large organization that consists of both community members and students. No matter what adventure you’re about to embark on, it is important to make sure you know who it is who you are going into nature with. Double and triple check to see if the organizer of the trip is a CHAOS trip leader, student, community member, or otherwise.
MEET WITH THE TRIP-GOERS BEFORE THE TRIP:
If possible, meet with the trip organizer/other trip leaders before you head out on your trip together. This allows you to get a sense of the people you are going to be going on a super rad adventure with. This is possibly one of the most important aspects of keeping yourself safe on a trip.
Don’t be afraid to ask to meet the people you’ll be going with, it can be as casual or professional as you’d like! Here’s an example script:
“Hey, I’m stoked to go to [location] with you! I was wondering if I could meet with you over Zoom/over the phone/over a cup of coffee/over slacklining to talk about planning the trip and to make sure we’re on the same page.”
It’s okay to turn people down! If you feel uncomfortable when you first meet someone, chances are you don’t want to go out in the wilderness with them. Your safety is more important than anything else, and people won’t be hurt if you cancel on them.
CHAOS meetings are also a tried and true, safe location to meet with other trip-goers, discuss plans, split a pizza, and have a good time! CHAOS meetings are on Wednesdays at 7:30pm at La Val’s Pizza on Northside. (edit: the Wednesday meeting location is subject to change – please refer to our discord, Instagram, and listserv to stay updated)
KEEP SOMEONE TRUSTED UP-TO-DATE:
Make sure at least one trusted person is aware of where you are going, what you are doing, and your general trip plans in case of emergency. If you are going on a longer trip, it’s a good idea to find intervals within the trip to contact a trusted person via cell phone, satellite phone (there’s one at the CHAOS gear shed available to check out, for more information go to chaosberkeley.org/how-it-works
HAVE A WAY OUT:
If you are afraid that the people you are attending the trip with may put you in danger or at risk, search for ways you can leave the situation as quickly as possible. Are you going to a heavily populated area? Don’t be afraid to ask a stranger for help. Will you be in a remote area? Have an emergency contact or alternative plan, and consider bringing more than one form of navigation (printed maps, phones, etc). Although it may seem excessive, it can save a life.
If you are hitchhiking, you can utilize all of these tips as well. Make sure you stand in a safe, bright place on the road. Ask a few simple questions to your driver to get a sense of who they are (where they’re going, what they’re doing, etc). Write down the driver’s information (make/model of car, license plate number) and send it to a friend. Be vague about your plans so that you can leave without an issue (ex: saying “I’m headed south” instead of “I’m headed to the South entrance of Joshua Tree”. Leave as soon as you feel uncomfortable and prepare for a quick exit if necessary.
We also teach a lot of this information in our Intro to Backpacking DeCal, which teaches backpackers-to-be how to build and go on a backpacking trip from the ground up. Check out our Safety Lecture slides here, which has similar information and includes nuances on how to approach safety while backpacking, such as physical health and wellness.
Lastly, and most importantly
DON’T BE DISCOURAGED:
So many marginalized groups, especially women, feel like they are unable to explore the beauties and wonders of the natural world simply because they have been told their entire lives it is unsafe or impossible. CHAOS’ community works hard to make sure that this fear is not a limitation to going out, making great memories, and getting comfortable with the Earth and outdoor recreation. There are many people who are here to support you and make sure you are able to go on the trips of your dreams in the safest and easiest way possible. Your life expands so much when you get outside, don’t let horror stories stop you from that!
Stay safe, stay stoked, and have some killer adventures!