Staying safe on our trails this summer

by CapeNature

Groot Winterhoek - July 2012 (12)_1

Hiking in the great outdoors is a fun, healthy, and affordable activity that is open to all so it’s not hard to see why it is continually growing into such a desirable pastime especially as some of our trails venture into the Western Cape’s most beautiful natural areas. But while the summer weather may be fast improving and making hiking more appealing, the physical demands increase and the dangers that lurk on trails also still remain.

Here are some tips to help you get there and back safely this summer.

Before you head out on a hiking trail

Being prepared is the key to having a safe and enjoyable experience on our trails. Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Never hike alone and pace your hike to the slowest person in your group.

Don’t forget you must purchase a permit to hike on CapeNature’s trails.

Do not assume that you will be rescued and always have emergency equipment on hand.

According to Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, the top 10 hiking essentials are:

1. Map

2. Compass/GPS

3. Warm clothing

4. Extra food and water

5. Extra clothes

6. Headlamp / Flashlight with extra batteries

7. First-Aid Kit

8. Fire Starter / Matches

9. Whistle

10. Knife

Personal responsibility and hiking

Getting lost can be prevented and rescuing yourself and others can be accomplished by adopting the following responsible practices:

  • Never descend into unknown trails, kloofs or slopes (waterfalls, loose stones and hidden cliffs can be deadly.
  • Keep the hiking group together, stay warm and protected from the elements.
  • Retrace your steps until you reach a familiar landmark or route, otherwise camp until you are rescued.
  • Use bright items to reveal your location to Search and Rescue Teams.
  • Take your map and compass with you.
  • Know your location.
  • Try to remain hydrated.

Remember you may not always be able to get cellphone reception in the mountains, but the numbers for Emergency Rescue Personnel from the Reserve or Mountain Rescue Services should be entered into your phone prior to embarking on your hike.

Hiking may produce many other threats to personal safety. These threats can be dangerous circumstances such as dehydration, hypothermia, accidents or injuries, extreme weather, fire and animal attacks.

For more detailed information on dealing with each of these threats download our full hiker safety guideline: There and back Safely – Hiking Protocol

 

 

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