Safety Tips for Hiking and Camping

This is Part 2 of a safety guide for your outdoor adventuring.
To read part one, click ‘Hiking and Climbing Safely’.

Know the Area and Route
Obviously before you set out on your adventure you should try get as much information about the area as possible. Study the map of the area, do online research and speak to others who have been there. Once you are on the hike or camp, keep a map and compass with you in case you ever get separated from the group, or become disorientated in bad weather. (Click here to read about one of our hikes where this happened). Where possible, hike along the path of least resistance; this will preserve your energy and should increase your visibility of the path, reducing the chance of an accident occurring. Keep the group together and always stay observant.

Choose Carefully Where You Set Up Camp
Choose your camp site very carefully. Firstly make sure it is on well drained land. Never camp in a dry river bed, even if it looks like it hasn’t had rain in years; flash floods can strike in an instant and can wash away your entire campsite (including motor vehicles) in a few minutes. Unfortunately many people have lost their lives in this fashion.

Protect yourself from the elements by making a shelter for any wind or rain. If you have no tent, shelter under overhanging rocks or fallen tress. Natural caves can often be a lifesaver. We once were caught in a hail storm on a hike, and a small cave came to our rescue; it was just big enough for two of us to squeeze under. Bigger caves need to be approached with caution: you must first ensure that they are not currently being inhabited by wild animals. Throw a rock inside, or a lighted fire-torch.

Getting Across Rivers
All river crossings have to be approached with the utmost of caution. Obviously look for the area where the water is at its most shallow and flowing at its slowest. Make sure the group stays close together and helps one another. If possible tie a rope to something heavy to help the weaker hikers cross to the other side.

Sometimes it might even be more beneficial to travel on the river rather than across it. If you can find some buoyant wood (such as bamboo) or airtight containers you could fashion yourself a makeshift raft. Travelling with the river will be much quicker than walking next to it, and could save you valuable hours.

Understanding the Elements
As touched on in the previous sections, always respect the natural elements. Extreme heat, wind, fog and rain all have the potential to be extremely dangerous. Exposure can be your worst enemy. Travel out of wind wherever it is possible. Wear adequate protective clothing and eat plenty of protein snacks and sweets for energy. Avoid alcohol.

Survival planning for a camp or hiking situation just means you are being wise enough to realize something bad could happen. By preparing adequately you are increasing not only your chances of survival, but of enjoying the experience as well. Be prepared, be safe.

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