Stay Safe this Summer

by CapeNature

The Western Cape is an amazing destination for the holidays and CapeNature reserves offer plenty of options for friends and family to appreciate nature, from a trip to the coast to a mountain walk with stunning waterfalls and natural views.

But while you’re out having fun, be aware of dangers take may lurk in the outdoors.  In this blog we discuss essential safety tips that will help you to stay safe this summer.

Hiking

Before setting out on your hike, you should make sure you have educated yourself about the route, terrain, difficulty, and expected time required to complete the trail. Never hike alone, and always make sure someone else knows where you are going, your route, and when you are expected back.  Read more on that here.

Fire

If you ever encounter a wildfire while you’re on a trail in the outdoors, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay calm and think in practical terms. Keep your group together, keep water bottles filled and, if possible, wet your equipment and clothes. Synthetic materials can melt.
  • Never try to out-run a fire, especially uphill. Take note of changes in wind direction.
  • Find water, rock slabs or cleared areas and stay there. Avoid thick bush, kloofs and rocky areas where you could be trapped.
  • Try to keep to jeep tracks, paths or open slopes. If you are in a hut or building, stay there.
  • Never try to start a back-burn; you can cause even more danger.
  • Remove gas canisters and all other fuel and inflammable objects from your rucksack. Store them in a safe place.
  • Keep a lookout for helicopters. Wave bright items to attract attention.
  • Inform the trail authorities when you reach the end of your hike.

Swimming

  • Swim sober. Alcohol and drugs can impair your judgement.
  • Check there’s a suitable exit point before you get into any water. In rivers, be particularly careful as currents are often faster than you think.
  • Reservoirs, lakes and rivers are tempting for swimmers to try to cross and it can be tempting to swim out to sea. Even strong swimmers can get into trouble because the cold weakens their arms and legs as the body tries to stay warm by diverting blood to the core. If this happens you can find yourself in trouble far from safety.
  • Be aware of and honest about your own swimming fitness and ability outdoors. Swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool, so stay within your limits.
  • Be careful of sudden changes of depth. Check the depth and what’s in the water before you get in. Don’t dive or jump in unless you know it’s deep enough and there are no obstructions.
  • Be alert to weather and its effect on your swim. Rainfall can drastically alter the risk profile of a river swim.
  • Find a safe area for children to play in and watch them all the time.

General Tips and Information

Whether you’re going on a hike, or a road trip, ensure that you have important information like maps and contact numbers on your cellphone for easy retrieval if you have any emergencies.  Here are some important numbers you should keep stored:

Police Flying Squad10111
Ambulance10177
Crime Stop860 010 111
City of Cape Town General Emergency107
Cellphone Emergency (MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom)112
Sea Rescue214 493 500
Mountain Rescue219 489 900

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