Enjoying Idaho Responsibly
Idaho is probably one of the best places on the planet for getting out to the outdoors and just having a bunch of fun in nature. There are a lot of places like this in the world and a few other places like it in America, but Idaho has a certain quality all its own that is difficult to replicate. However, if you are coming to Idaho for an outdoor adventure you are also going to experience outdoor danger. Sometimes this danger is pretty minimal and similarly, there is also the chance that a situation could become life-threatening in the extreme. Idaho is another civilized state just like the rest of them, but there are certain things you can do in it that are not so safe and which can get you in a lot of trouble if you do not know what you are doing or if you go into them unprepared. I want to get into just a few of the potential dangers Idaho posses for its average citizens and those that are pursuing more ambitious adventures and talk about what can be done to minimize the potential for harm in the different situations you might find yourself in. With any luck, you can find new ways to enjoy the best parts of Idaho as responsibly as possible.
There is at least one thing that Idahoans will all experience at one point or another and which most tourists will run into as well if they are like the majority of people that give Idaho a visit instead of spending their lives there. This shared experience that needs to be understood to be enjoyed responsibly is the winter. Idaho winters are not the worst in the world (You would have to go much farther north to get into that kind of territory) but they can still get fairly moderate. You might remember the blizzard apocalypse that hit the nation a few years ago. A large part of Idaho was practically shut down during that event because the snow and cold were so bad. So, what can be done to earn that understanding and enjoy Idaho winter responsibly—because winter and the prospect of skiing are two things that inexorably draw people to the state? Be prepared and drive carefully are the two answer I will give you. For the preparation side, make sure you have plenty of warm clothing in the form of sweaters, jackets of different kinds, and other articles of clothing that keep you warm. Also, make sure where you are living is rated to keep working in the cold. How is your heater operating and does it need work? Have you considered snow tires? Are their trees that might freeze and then thaw and fall on your home? Figure out the answers to these questions and more.
Driving is really the big thing to be thinking about here. When you have to navigate through snow and ice on the road the practice of driving becomes an almost entirely different beast. If you are driving like you always do and like the weather is temperate and warm than when you hit a bad spot and your tires make contact with ice it can turn a pleasant day into an undesirable day. Suffice it to say, driving in the winter is a skill you are going to have to learn and get used to, but there is one general principle that will keep you safe. That principle is simply to drive slowly. In all things that related to driving, do not go fast. This means your top speed on the highway should be significantly lower, than during the summer. It also means that you should take your time when accelerating from a stop or crawl. When you are at top speed, hitting ice can be devastating. When you are going a reasonable winter speed, it can just be a little scary and you will usually be fine. The other thing to remember is, that breaks lose their effectiveness on ice and snow. You are going to need significantly more distance to come to a stop and this means you should keep plenty of room between yourself and obstacles on the road (See, other cars) so that if something happens and you need to stop suddenly, there will not be an agonizing few seconds where you have hit the breaks and nothing happens so you go sailing into the car (Or person) in front of you.
Once you start getting into the more specific and potentially extreme sports that Idaho has to offer your answer to danger become more tailored to what you are doing and generalities that work for everyone start to work less. However, there is one thing that a lot of outdoor sports in Idaho have in common and that is the remoteness in which you do them. There are plenty of the usual things that everyone does within civilization but camping, hunting, and other adventures you might go on in Idaho are all done far from other people, especially if you are going all the way and avoiding the places where the majority of people do these things. There are two general rules to keep in mind for these kinds of excursions. First, make sure you have everything you need to survive and be comfortable before you set out. This means having plenty of water, food, and the usual things that will keep you warm. You do not want to go out hunting in a sweater that is good for the afternoon and then be stuck out in the wild when the sun drops, and you start freezing to death without a heavy coat. The next rule is to always tell someone where you are going, what you are doing, and when they should expect to hear from you again. Out in the wilds of Idaho, you are going to be on your own and without a cellphone connection for most of the experience. This means either you are going to have to get yourself out of trouble or rely on someone to come and get you, but no one is coming for you if they do not know you are in trouble, and they will probably only know that if you do not make an appearance when you are supposed to.