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Safety while caching - tips for a newbie


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The kids and I are just getting into geocaching. Before we head off into the woods I thought it would be helpful to hear how others stay safe. After reading the stories of the hiker in GA that is missing it got me thinking about being a mom out in the woods with two kids.



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I have also recently begun caching with my 6 year old. When we are out on our own I make sure to let someone else know where we are going and which caches we are looking for. It's usually my boyfriend who is also an experienced cacher so he knows what I'm talking about. I also call a couple of times and let him know how we are doing.

Have some basic first aid supplies, water and granola bars or the like. Make sure your cell is charged. In the cold weather be sure to dress in layers, I've learned that one. Oh, and carry a flashlight or two, I got a Mini Mag Light, just in case you get caught out in the dark.

I am actually more aware of my surroundings when I am out with my daughter than when I am out alone.

Also, teach your kids about being aware of their surroundings. How to use the cell to call 911 in case of anything. What color trail are they on. Are there any significant landmarks around you. etc. It will help if anything should happen and the kids have to tell 911 where you are. I know it sounds extreme but it's better to prep for the worst.

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Some good advice above.


In addition to letting someone know where you're going, you should give them details. Tell them where you are going, who you are going with, and when you expect to be back. When you get back, call them and let them know you are ok.


Absolutely. It seems silly and often unnecessary, but it is one of the best things to give someone who might have to come look for you.

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I am actually more aware of my surroundings when I am out with my daughter than when I am out alone.
Very sage advice, everyone! I started caching this past July with my seven-year-old son, and although we tend to get a little focused on what we're doing, I'm sure to check out what area of town we're in before just running out the door. As always, trust your instincts, carry a cell phone, and bring lots of water and granola bars. Be sure to mark your car as a waypoint, and label it clearly!!


After reading the stories of the hiker in GA that is missing it got me thinking about being a mom out in the woods with two kids.
Oh, what did happen with the hikers? They weren't caching, were they? I don't follow the news. Edited by meralgia
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Overall, I would be more worried in urban areas, but my job keeps me in the woods and I'm comfortable and confident.


10 Essentials There are hundreds of sites to learn about them. I would move the whistle, for each member of your group, into the 10. Do not worry about food, you can go weeks without food and survive. But for kids it is a great comfort. And teach the kids what to do if they get lost, hug a tree and blow their whistle.


Rule of 3s

You can survive . . .

Three minutes without oxygen

Three hours exposed to freezing cold

Three days without water

Three weeks without food.


The ten are for each member of the group, and carried on them. You could get split up. Also, learn how to use a map and compass. The GPS is a great tool, but a map and compass and the ability to use them, is the greatest backup. Start with a street map and have everyone learn how to follow a route. I've taught literally hundreds of people to use a map and compass.

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While the "10 Essentials" are important and we should never go into the woods w/out those things, I'm afraid these things could not have helped Meridith Emerson (the girl who disappeared in GA). Her story really hits home to me as I'm a woman and I've completed most of my cache hunts alone (much to the dismay of my friends and family). This has really opened my eyes as I've always felt safer in the woods than anywhere else. Meridith had martial arts training, a "good head on her shoulders" and had hiked this particular trail many, many times. It seems that her mistake was talking to strangers. Who among us wouldn't have done the same? I meet some of the greatest people while hiking!!! It's even scarier to see that they're now investigating a possible link to a couple who disappeared back in Oct 2007 in Pisgah National Forest. I have cached there a number of times alone.


I guess the bottom line is you're not really safe anywhere. Don't cache alone!!! And always let people know where you're going with as many specifics as possible (as already stated). Another thing to note is that in the case of Meredith Emerson there were a number of hikers who came forward with information and a description of the man seen hiking with her. We should be alert for the safety of ourselves and our brethren. These alert hikers have cracked a case which might have well gone unsolved.


Like I said, this has been a real wakeup call for me. I will probably not hike alone from this point forward and I'm not sure I would feel any safer hiking with just one of my girlfriends. This is very, very sad on so many levels:(

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While no one should take foolish chances, the incidents of violence in the back country are extremely rare. If we applied the same standards, no one would walk a city street, or drive a car. But we accept those risks because they are in environments we are familiar with.


Of all the safety issues in the woods, you are the most likely to cause harm to yourself. Sprains, getting lost, bad water, cooking, and a myriad of other things. And sadly, two legged animals are far more dangerous than the four legged kind.

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By the way, I don't want to discourage anyone from geocaching. Geocaching has been one of the most fulfilling activities I've ever been involved in and I think it's the perfect activity for families!!! I just want to encourage everyone to BE SAFE. Don't be silly like me and cache alone;-) Follow the advice of the other wise cachers on the forums and you and your kids will have a fantastic time.

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1. Mark your car


2. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan on returning


3. Bring a cell phone but be aware that it may not have service when you need it most


4. If you are going off into the woods make sure you have enough with you to survive the night if necessary

- the 10 essentials (mentioned earlier)

- extra dry clothing (not cotton)

- poncho or raincoat

- a mylar emergency blanket (inexpensive and lightweight enough to carry one for each person in your party)


5. Bring map and compass and know how to use them


6. Carry a whistle (many camping supply stores sell extremely loud "storm whistles")


7. If you meet a stranger on the trail don't tell him where you are going, where you are parked or let on that you are alone. You can act like you are waiting for someone behind you, or even place a fake cell phone call to your "companion" telling him to hurry up.


8. If something doesn't feel right, trust your instincts and head back.


9. Carry bear pepper spray and keep it handy. If you are comfortable with carrying a gun and the law allows it, consider doing that.


10. Bring a hiking staff or trekking pole. Use it to poke into dark crevices and it can help ward off smaller, aggressive animals.


Also keep in mind that what happened to that hiker in GA is extremely rare. You have a far better chance of getting killed or injured in an accident driving to the trail head, than meeting trouble on the trail.

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For most caches, there really aren't any special safety measures needed. Pretty much whatever "safety gear" you would carry on a trip to the market is usually sufficient.


We can always dream up a scenario (or read about one) where one gets lost in a half-acre woods and starves to death or gets eaten by a mountain lion, but in reality, by far, most caches are in easy-to-get-to public places that are not far from where hordes of people pass.


All the ideas presented here are good. IMO the most important being that some responsible adult knows where you intend to be and when you intend to be home. Beyond that, I wouldn't worry much unless you are planning a trip into an unusual area.


park and grab...park and grab... nothing to worry about here

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