SAFETY TIPS Click a TIP below for details
Personal Safety & Crime Prevention
Many people use East Bay Regional Park District parklands and trails safely every day, but accidental injuries do happen, and a person who might decide to harm you could be anywhere. We suggest that you minimize your “risk factors” while in District parklands as you would in any public area. You can remove a risk factor by following each of these tips:
- Be alert. Project alertness, confidence, and determination. Your shoulders are back, you are aware of your surroundings, and you have somewhere to go.
- Go with a buddy. Enjoy your trails and parklands with a friend. Two or more trail users can assist each other in the event of accident or injury, and one can always seek help.
- The day is your friend. It’s better to avoid dusk and darkness.
- Use all your senses. Listen for suspicious noises. Don’t wear headphones; they impair your ability to hear someone approaching you from behind. If you sense that an area may be unsafe for you, leave.
- Take what you need. Bring Water. Carry personal identification. If you use a medication frequently, such as for diabetes or angina, take it and instructions for use with you.
- Leave valuables at home. Don’t make yourself an obvious target. If you must leave valuables in your vehicle while you are enjoying your picnic lunch or using the trails, hide them well before you arrive at the parking area; auto burglaries are all too common.
- Call for help. If you need assistance or encounter someone else needing assistance in the District, call 911 (call 510-881-1121 from a cell phone). Many District employees and volunteers can also request assistance for you.
NOTE: Cell service not available in all locations.
- Have someone waiting. Always let someone else know where you will be going and when you will return, and instruct him or her to call 911 if you do not return as planned.
- Be easy to find. Use marked, authorized trails only.
Trail Etiquette & Safe Trail Use
~ Check trail signs for allowable user groups (such as cyclists, equestrians).
~ Share the Trail: Hikers yield to horses; cyclists and skaters yield to hikers and horses.
~ Do not pick wildflowers, enjoy their beauty and leave them for others to enjoy.
~ Stay on designated trails.
~ Do not take shortcuts!
~ Keep dogs on leash unless it is specifically posted that they can be off leash.
~ Do not litter–pack it in, pack it out.
~ Cyclists must call out and/or ring bike bells when passing.
Planning Your Outing
~ When planning your hike, consider your physical condition, the length of the trail and level of difficulty, and the predicted weather conditions.
~ You can shorten or lengthen your planned route to meet your ability or to accommodate the weather.
~ Before heading out, always tell a family member or friend where you are going, what trail(s) you are planning to hike, and when you expect to return.
~ Take plenty of water, dress for the weather, and know the location of an emergency phone before you begin. When possible, go with a friend.
Recommended items for your outdoor adventure.
~ Water for yourself and your animal(s)
~ Trail map
~ High energy snacks
~ Cash for fees when applicable
~ First aid kit
~Camera and binoculars (optional)
~ Extra clothing
~ Trekking poles (optional)
~ Compass (optional)
~ Insect repellent
~ Train crossings are found throughout some of the Regional Parks.
~ Be mindful of signs and fencing. Do not walk on railroad tracks.
~ Exercise caution and be alert.
For additional safety tips for trail users, see our Safety Information online.
Hiking with Kids
When hiking with children, consider trail conditions, weather, and the physical conditions of the kids. Start with low mileage and work your way up. Remember that kids tire easily and are more affected than adults by rain and cold conditions.
~ Make sure you and your child have good footwear and socks, no open-toed shoes.
~ Bring lots of water and snacks.
~ Wear sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, and dress in layers or bring a change of clothes for the child.
~ Bring a first aid kit, sting and allergy care, hand wipes, and tissues.
Enjoy the Park Safely
Stay on the trail.
Teach your children to stay where you can see them, and they can see you.
Teach your child to stay with a buddy.
When walking or hiking with kids, keep incentive treats with you. If a child is having a hard time getting up a hill and the view at the top is not enough to keep them going, establish stopping points where the child will get a treat. Keep granola bars, trail mix, or energy treats handy.
This is a great time to play age-appropriate games. Try “I Spy” and “20 Questions.” Find shapes in the clouds during rest stops. See what you can find on the trail to teach them about nature and hold their interest.
Give responsibilities to kids 12 years and older. For example, let them keep the map and lead the way. Put them in charge of water and snack breaks. Let your child be photographer for the day.
Hiking with Dogs in the Parks
Before you leave home
~ Bring enough water for you and your dog(s).
~ Bring snacks and toys if needed.
~ Make sure you have a leash (six-foot maximum) for each dog, and a harness.
~ Your dog should wear identification in case of separation.
~ Bring doggie waste bags – better to bring several, just in case.
~ Know your dog’s limits – how far can he or she go before tiring?
~ Check the weather where you plan to hike. On warmer days, walk shaded routes and avoid going out during the hottest times of the day.
At the trailhead and during your hike
Upon arrival at the trailhead or parking area, keep your dog(s) on-leash–dogs must leashed in all parking lots, picnic areas, developed areas such as lawns and play fields, and on some trails. They must be under voice control at all times. Read the posted dog rules. They must also remain on-leash 200 feet in from the trailhead or park entrance, which allows a “cooling off” period for your pet excited to be outdoors.
During your walk, watch for signs of thirst, hunger, and fatigue. You know your dog best, so pay attention to the telltale signs that only you may know.
On the trail, take rest stops for yourself and your buddy. Dogs appreciate some time in the shade to cool off, too.
Very important! If your dog deposits waste along the trail, pick it up in your dog waste bag or one provided at the park. Please take it with you – do not leave it on the side of the trail. These bags are often forgotten and remain for someone else to pick up. Everyone likes to see a clean park, so please do your part.
Be sure to keep your dog close, there are many dangers for dogs in the parks. They can also transmit poison oak to their owners if they are allowed to romp off trail. Be aware that many people are afraid of dogs despite an owner’s belief that their dog is a friendly one. And many people do not appreciate an uncontrolled and overly friendly dog jumping on them or their children.
After your hike
~ Make sure your dog has water and food, and has a place to cool down.
~ Check for ticks – if the tick has attached, your dog will be focusing on that spot.
~ Check for foxtails and other weeds in their coat, nose, paws, and ears.
Wildlife and Grazing Animals
Cattle are large animals, weighing 1,000 pounds or more. While not aggressive by nature, if aggravated, cattle can respond in a potentially dangerous manner. If you encounter cattle on the trails, try not to startle them. Keep your distance and walk around them rather than through them. Don’t get between a calf and its mother; they are protective of their young. Don’t try to get close to, touch, or pet them. Always keep your dog under control. For more information on hiking safely near cattle, see our Safety Tips for hiking near grazing animals.
Coyote, bobcats, deer, elk, wild pigs, and mountain lions are occasionally spotted in the parks. Their normal reaction is to run away. Some have become used to our presence and will continue their activities while being watched. Never feed, try to approach, or pet wild animals. Keep pets and small children near you in wilderness areas. Because of their size, these animals could become dangerous should they be surprised, confronted, or if they begin to associate humans with food.
If you would like more information on wildlife to watch for, ask for brochures at Regional Parks Visitor Centers.
The glossy leaves grow in sets of three (like the wild blackberry) and change from light green in the spring to pink or red in the summer. The poison is the oil found throughout the plant. Even touching the plant’s stem can cause a reaction on the skin. Avoiding poison oak is the best way to avoid the itchy rash caused by touching the plant. Staying on the trail will help avoid contact. If you do come in contact with poison oak, wash immediately with soap and water. Calamine lotion relieves itching. If the rash spreads, see a physician.
Remember “Leaves of three, let it be; if it’s hairy, it’s a berry“ (the hair being the thorns of a blackberry).
Although most snakes found in California are harmless, the northern pacific rattlesnake can deliver a venomous bite if provoked. Its coloration allows it to blend in with the soil, providing excellent camouflage. Rattlesnakes and gopher snakes have similar coloration, therefore rattlesnakes are often mistaken for its harmless cousin. Therefore, use caution and avoid any snake you see in the wild.
What to do if bitten by a snake
If bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm and have someone call 9-1-1. The victim should remain calm by lying down with the affected limb lower than the heart. Wash the wound, if possible. (Rattlesnake bites are typically associated with intense, burning pain.) If you are by yourself, walk calmly to the nearest source of help. DO NOT RUN! If bitten by another kind of snake, wash the wound with soap and water or an antiseptic and seek medical attention.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of a tick. It may be treated and cured with early diagnosis, but if not properly treated it may persist in the body for years.
Learn how to avoid ticks and remove ticks.
Prevent wildfires by following these tips.
~ Abide by all posted or announced fire safety rules.
~ Smoking is NOT ALLOWED in ALL wildland areas.
~ No Campfires outside of developed recreation areas.
~ Properly extinguish all campfires.
~ Barbeques permitted only in designated day-use picnic areas, campgrounds, or developed recreational areas.
~ Don’t drive your vehicle into dry grass, where sparks could start a fire.
If you see smoke in parklands, call 911.
Check today’s fire conditions on our Closures & Notices page online.