For nature lovers, North Carolina has a little bit of everything: beaches, mountains, lakes, forests, and more. More than 19 million people visit North Carolina’s state parks each year. Unfortunately, sometimes state parks can be the sites of serious accidents. In July, a seventeen-year-old fell thirty feet off a cliff at Hanging Rock State Park.  In May, there were a series of accidents at Stone Mountain State Park, resulting in park officials closing the park for several hours.
Not all state park accidents are preventable, but we have a responsibility to ourselves and others to be aware of our surroundings and take appropriate safety measures when visiting state parks and other natural settings. Visitors should consider that natural attractions can often be located in remote areas, resulting in long response times in the event of an accident. Be sure to take a cell phone with you in case you need to call for help and never hike alone. Also, don’t be afraid to ask a park ranger for more information about the park you are visiting or the trail you are hiking.
North Carolina’s state parks and other natural areas boast hundreds of waterfalls that are popular with hikers and tourists. Waterfalls are among the most exciting natural attractions to visit, but they also pose distinct dangers. Keep the following safety tips in mind when visiting waterfalls:
- Stay on developed trails and don’t stray from observation decks and platforms. Don’t jump into plunge pools.
- Follow posted instructions at all waterfalls and trails.
- Watch your footing and be aware of your surroundings. Rocks that appear dry or covered with algae can also be very slippery. Wear hiking shoes with a good grip.
- Remember that the top of the waterfall is the most dangerous. Do not lean over the edge or play in the stream or river above a waterfall.
- Supervise children and pets closely.
- Be especially careful when taking a photo. Don’t sacrifice your safety for a good selfie and be sure you take photos only from safe, solid locations.
Check out Brevard County’s PSA on Waterfall Safety for more information: https://explorebrevard.com/waterfall-safety/ as well as the NC State Parks guide for staying safe and respecting other visitors: https://www.ncparks.gov/park-safety-and-respect.
Enjoy your time exploring our state parks and stay safe. If an accident at a state park results in an injury to you or a family member, you can call the attorneys at Grimes Yeoman for help if you have been injured 833-474-6375, or contact us online and we’ll reach out to you.