This isn't a new reality show; it's the last, but not least of all emergency preparedness tips. You hope you or your family will NOT have an animal encounter, but you should be prepared just in case.
Prevention is paramount, so avoid animal interaction at all costs. Teach children never to feed or approach an animal, no matter how small or cute. And don't leave kids unattended.
Store all food in animal resistant containers or in your car. There are even special bags to hang your food aboveground, and in some camping areas, bear-proof bins are for rent.
But if you do chance on a bear, here's what you do:
- If you haven't been spotted, retreat slowly, staying downwind. If you can't totally escape, then back off the trail so the bear has ample space and time to leave.
- If the bear has seen you, behave in a non-threatening way. Turn sideways or bend down to appear smaller. If you need to speak, use a quiet, calm voice. This lets the bear know you're human and often, the animal will give you opportunity to leave. If so, stay upwind, confirming for the bear that you're human. Don't make eye contact, and hang on to your backpack for protection.
- If the bear comes closer, climb a tree. Don't run as you will not win, even downhill. At close range, pepper spray works and will give you time to escape.
For more emergency tips, go to the next page.