12 HIKING SAFETY TIPS

Whether you are hiking in the Andes, the Alps, the Himalaya or the Drakensberg, the rules for hiking safely are universal.

1.       NEVER go hiking on your own.  Apart from being a possible mugging victim, should you injure yourself, there is no one to call for help.  You can’t rely on cell phone signal and, who knows, you may be unconscious and unable to call anyone.

2.      Plan your route carefully and give that information to someone who will be able to inform the proper authorities should you not return when expected.  A lot of trails have hiking registers and, should you not arrive at your stated destination on time, an alert will sent out.

3.      Choose your hike depending on your fitness level.  If you are hiking with children, you must obviously choose according to their capabilities.

4.      Make sure you leave enough time for your proposed hike.  It is better to start really early in the morning and build in a few hours leeway for unexpected eventualities.  It is most important that you plan to be back at your starting point or the next hut, way before it gets dark.

5.      Check the weather forecast.  The weather can change exceptionally quickly, especially in mountainous terrain.  One minute the sun is shining and the next, the mist has descended and you’ve lost your path. 

6.      Stay on the paths.  This will ensure you don’t get lost and will protect the environment in which you are hiking.

7.      Take all your rubbish back home with you.

8.      Remember people who hike, do so because they love the peace and quiet of their chosen environment, so don’t pollute it with noise.

9.      If you are planning a long hike, don’t do it with new hiking boots.  Hiking boots, like all shoe wear, take a while to break in and there is nothing worse than knowing you’ve got another 10 miles to go with feet full of blisters.

10.  Your clothing should be light and breathable.  It is a good idea to wear some reflective item, such as a reflective running belt or a reflective running vest, just in case you find yourself in trouble in the mountains.  Rescue teams will be able to spot you better in the dark, if you are wearing reflective gear.

11.  Your backpack should contain warm clothing items and waterproof clothing items.  You should also carry an emergency blanket, first aid kit, torch, matches, a few extra snacks and plenty of water.

12.  Be a pleasure to hike with.