Mountain Safety – 7 Simple Ways to Stay Safe in the Hills

Staying safe hiking

Hiking is fantastic form of exercise, enabling walkers to enjoy the outdoors, take in the fabulous scenery, and most importantly, get their heart rate up for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, mountains can be a dangerous environment, and should rarely be attempted alone, especially if in experienced.

Mountain conditions are notorious for changing very quickly; weather can go from clear skies to thick fog in a matter of minutes.

So here are a few tips for staying safe in the mountains

1. Plan your route, stick to it, tell people

Having a well planned route is essential to mountain safety. You must have a very clear idea of where you’re going. Make people who are not in your walking party aware of your plan also. If you are staying out for several days, make sure you check in when you can. Never deviate from your plan without first telling people.

2. Have the correct skills

As a minimum, everyone should be able to use a map and compass, and it is ideally worth having a first aider in your party. In most cases, you don’t need to be an expert at everything, but having enough skills in map-reading and basic first aid is usually a good start.

3. Take the correct equipment, know how to use it.

Make sure you have the right equipment. Remember, it’s always possible that you will be out overnight or need to be rescued. There is basic equipment and supplies you should never leave without:

  • A topographical map of the area of sufficient detail (in the UK, an OS Explorer map, 1:25,000 scale is perfect)
  • A compass (must know how to use it!)
  • A torch
  • A whistle
  • Waterproof matches / firelighting equipment
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Extra food
  • Extra clothing
  • Extra water

4. Have the correct clothing

It might be quite warm down in the valley, but when you get on a ridge, the weather can be dramatically different, cold, windy, wet. You should always carry waterproof and windproof layers with you, even if you don’t expect to use the. It’s always a good idea to carry a few extra layers in your pack anyway. Take spare gloves, and hats in your pack. There’s often someone in the party who forgot theirs!

5. Take enough food and drink

Hiking in mountains is a strenuous endeavour; make sure you have plenty of food, a good mix of carbohydrates (such as rice or pasta) and high energy food such as nuts, or Kendal Mint Cake. Again, keep in mind that you might be out for longer than you expect, so take plenty.

6. Check the weather before you go

In the UK, the Met Office has a superb web site, the mountain area forecast (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/loutdoor/mountainsafety/index.html). This site offers advice on the conditions at varying altitudes, the likelihood of difficult weather. If the conditions look too difficult for your level of expertise, don’t go. It’s not worth the risk.

7. Never walk alone

Walking alone in the hills, especially for the very inexperienced is not big, and it’s not clever. It’s true not everyone enjoys hiking, but a lot of people do, it’s a very common form of exercise or and popular hobby.

Hurricane Preparation to Help You Stay Alive and Be Safe

As you begin to take in the news about Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma, not to mention Jose coming in behind her, you may wonder about your little area of the world; Is it safe and can you escape if a large funnel of wind, rain, and waves come after your town? With the appropriate hurricane preparation, hurricane supplies, and some planning, you can be safe. It will also help your family get closer together.

Hurricane Planning

A great hurricane guide and the hurricane kit it recommends will see you through hurricane. Think about what is coming when you are in the path of a hurricane. There will be a fairly wide swath of storm with winds (based on whether it is category 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) of up to 200 miles per hour. No matter where it ‘makes landfall’, as it is heading toward you, trees can be ripped up, roads can become buckled and electrical power lines will start to fall. This, of course, makes it dangerous to be out on the roads, even if you want to go out.

You will probably be out of power before you even feel the wind and/or rain, so use the time you have to watch the television and listen to the radio about what is coming. During this time, the planning you will need to do, if you have not done so by now, is fairly straight forward:

Gather materials together to help you survive for a few days. This will be your ‘Go-Bag’ or hurricane kit and should be prepared in advance for when it’s necessary.

* Paper maps of the local area from your neighborhood to the safest place you believe you can get to are a good idea. This might mean to the State border or, at least completely out of the danger zone. Do not depend on the Google Maps app in your cell phone as the signal may not even be there for its operation.

* Hand crank radio to listen to news and disaster updates. If you have a good battery operated one, get plenty of batteries now, so you will not have to go to the store, which will probably be out by the time you get there anyway.

* Water for every member of your party. You will need approximately one gallon for each member for each day. Pack more if it is hot and you will be doing any kind of strenuous activity to survive. Do not be as concerned about water for bathing as this luxury can be ignored for a couple of days.

* Medications: Pack all regular, normal medications for everyone. Include a lot of antiseptic, or sanitary wipes. A full First Aid kit should also be packed. A bottle, or tin, of water purification tablets should also be in your bag. You will also want to include any real valuable paperwork and/or things that looters like to get if you are not there to protect them.

* A sharp knife, a tarp for shelter and sleeping bags can also be included. Be careful about packing any guns unless you know the laws in your area, and the area you are going into. Do not depend on the authorities looking the other way all of the time in this matter.

* Food: Your hurricane supplies will need to contain enough food for your family. This should include simple things that do not need to be heated, as this convenience might be hard to find for a while. Previously bought dehydrated foods is the ideal.

If you are going to be able to move out of the area in your car or truck, weight may not be an issue, however, if you will be walking out, or catching a ride from someone else, weight will be a big issue and all of the above supplies will need to be broken down into a backpack or duffel bag for each member of your party, so plan this out carefully.

House Preparation

It could help ensure you have a drier place to come back to. All things that can be picked up by the wind and thrown into your windows should be taken inside. This can also prevent looters from getting them. This includes lawn furniture and those cute gnomes that are in the yard that can make nasty torpedoes when thrown through a patio door. The BBQ grill in the shed or garage and tables and chairs should be brought inside too.

Several days before the storm hits, if there are still lumber yards open, get plywood and mount these over at least the large picture windows you have. It won’t matter if your house is destroyed or blown away, but, if not, these few steps will help keep things together and less water and damage can enter into your house. You could go to the point of putting sand bags in all exterior doors and basement entrances. Many communities offer a large pile of sand in some situations like this. By checking the news, you can find out if this is available in your area.

Even if you evacuate to a local safety center, established in a secure area by the city or State, the preservation of your home will help you get back to business quicker after the all clear has been sounded.

If the storm is not actually going to hit your house physically, you may decide to hunker down inside. Follow the instructions above for the preparing of your home, and consider acquiring a generator. This might be needed because, even if the hurricane misses your house or neighborhood, your electrical power comes from a bit further away than that and may be turned off.

Check List

A quick look at your hurricane preparation:

  1. As soon as you hear about the storm, track it’s progress through TV and radio.
  2. Start packing your Go-Bag.
  3. Check for open lumber yards and clean up the yard.
  4. Check into generator availability if you are going to be staying inside.
  5. Evacuate if, and when, directed to do so, following your plan, and be patient on the roads as there will be many people fighting for their piece of it.
  6. If you are going to a local safety center, be courteous and know that everyone is having a hard time of it as well.