Parks and trails are generally safe places, but part of having a safe and fun experience is up to you. Here are a few things to remember:Basic safety tips
- Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- When you leave your car, lock it and make sure any valuables are out of sight.
What to bring
There a few basics you can bring if you are going on a short hike or ride. Other items should be added for longer trips to areas less traveled.
- Water – at least two quarts per person if you plan to be out for a long hike with no access to water.
- Whistle – this can make a loud sound for longer than your voice if you need to call for help.
- Sun protection – hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are all good ideas.
- Sturdy and comfortable walking shoes.
- First aid kit – for a short hike carry a few band aids, gauze pads and any emergency medication you might need.
- Map – know where you are going, and bring a map if you are exploring a new area.
- Flashlight –a small LED light on a keychain can help you find your way or signal if you get caught out after dark.
- Extra food – if you are out later than you expect a small energy bar can help.
- Extra clothes – be aware of weather conditions for the season and bring an extra layer for warmth or rain protection if appropriate.
- Cell phone – Program in the emergency number for the local police agency. You might also want to program in the number for the ranger office (925-960-2400). Be aware that your cell phone may not have reception in all areas.
Being a good visitor
Help keep yourself and others safe by following a few simple rules:
- Keep your dog on a leash no longer than six feet. (This keeps wildlife from being frightened, keeps your dog safe from hazards such as rattlesnakes and helps avoid conflicts with other park visitors or their pets.)
- Carry out all pet waste and trash that you bring into the park.
- Stay on designated trails. Other areas may be unsafe, be sensitive habitat or have been recently planted to restore vegetation.
- Be a good neighbor by respecting private property. Stay within park and trail boundaries.
- Use only trails posted for the activity you are enjoying.
- Share trails safely by knowing who has the right of way. Bikes and people yield to horses. People yield to bikes.
- Alert others when you are passing them on a trail.
- Always travel at a safe speed for current conditions.
- Leave everything where you find it. Collecting is not allowed. Whether it is a rock, a stick, a flower, an animal or an ancient artifact, it has a reason for being where it is and should stay there. (Even non-living things like rocks and dead branches can provide habitat for living creatures.)
When you visit another country, learning the etiquette of the local culture can help you have a safe and memorable journey. When you visit open spaces, you are visiting the homes of wild creatures. Although you don’t need a passport to journey to a local open space park, learning a few rules of wild places can help make your visit safe and fun.
- Give wild animals plenty of space. Even cute little animals like squirrels will bite if they feel threatened.
- Don’t feed animals. Although it is tempting, there are several reasons not to feed wildlife. First of all, the animal may come closer to you than is safe. In addition, animals that are fed may become too accustomed to people and approach people in an aggressive manner demanding food. It is also not healthy for these animals to eat human food; for them it is a junk food diet.
- Don’t reach into holes or other areas you can’t see. Also, watch where you step. Many creatures will try to hide from you. If you reach into a hiding space, the animal will feel trapped and may defend itself by biting.
Go to the Nature Notes page for more information on individual wildlife species.