Many states donít wear helmets for outdoor activities, but awareness is changing. People donít even use them when rafting, unless on the wilder class 4 and 5 rapids, so do ask for one and set a good example! They all supply them, they just donít shout about it. All kayakers use helmets.
Wildlife awareness is important in the national parks. With animals like bears, mountain lions and snakes, you need to inform yourself of what to do in the event of an encounter before you go. Do not let your children wander too far ahead of you, so that you can keep a close eye.
Temperatures can plummet in many regions of the USA. So always carry a sensible layer or two. Hypothermia can be life threatening and happen at any time of year. if you are hiking a canyon, it could be five degrees in the morning at the top, and forty by the time you hit the bottom. So, check the weather differences before you pack, and cater for extremes.
Lightning storms are common in many areas in the USA, and usually take place on summer afternoons. So best to hike early if you are going high, so that you are descending by the afternoon. If lightning does occur, get below the treeline and stay away from summits or isolated trees. Stay as low as you can and take your backpack off if it has a metal frame in it.
The USA have big areas of wild spaces so, if you go exploring, always be prepared with maps, compass, rain gear, pocketknife, matches and a whistle. And always tell someone where you are going. Most trailheads in national parks have a book you can sign to say where you are going, and how many are in your party.
Flash floods do happen in some of the canyon areas, and waters can rise very quickly. People do die in these every year, so you need to very cautious. And, ideally, travel with an expert guide who understands the risks.
Never throw or roll rocks on from cliff edges, as you could start a rock fall and, more likely, there might be hikers below you whom you could hit.
Be careful if you are driving as speed restrictions vary per state. Also, so do stop signs. In general, if there is a stop sign at an intersection, you have to come to a complete stop. If the traffic coming from your right also has a stop sign, it is their right of way. However, in Colorado, you give right of way to the vehicle that arrived at their stop sign first. Confused? Just make sure you ask a local what the Ďfour way stop signí rule is in their state.