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National Parks on Earth Day: How to Stay Safe

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 22, 2016 4:57 PM

Today is Earth Day; tomorrow, Picnic Day. With spring in full bloom, it's the perfect weekend to spend in one of the country's gorgeous national parks.

But along with all that majesty comes just a little bit of menace. While national parks and wilderness areas can provide the perfect backdrop to wonder, contemplation, and take the odd selfie, they can also pose dangerous pitfalls most of us aren't used to facing in our daily lives. So if you're celebrating Earth Day in a national park, here are some tips on staying safe.

Hiking, Camping, and Backpacking

Hiking and camping injuries, unfortunately, can happen. But they can also be avoided. If you're heading out to a national park with a tour guide or company, make sure their reputable and familiar with the park as a whole and the specific areas you'll be exploring. Most importantly, make sure they are properly permitted: not having the proper access can lead to tragic results.

And if you're venturing out on your own, make sure to obey all park rules and signage. While the wonders of nature -- and sometimes the quest for the perfect photo -- can be intoxicating, they can also be deadly. And the parks and park rangers probably know better than you which areas are safe and which are too dangerous for travel.

(And you should be aware that if you ever find yourself in need of rescue, that you could wind up paying your rescue costs if you were reckless or negligent on the trail.)

Natural Threats

Sometimes, though, injuries in national parks aren't anybody's fault, and are just the risk we run when we venture outdoors. Falling trees, and even falling pine cones, have been known to seriously injure hikers, campers, and other park visitors. If that happens, you may have a claim against the park for failing to warn of potential dangers.

So if you're going out to a national park today or this weekend, be careful of natural dangers, don't invent any of your own, and for goodness sake don't vandalize the place. And if you do get injured, you might want to talk to an experienced injury attorney near you.

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