HIKING SAFETY

IMG-20170619-WA0100The first place to begin is to understand that outdoor sports are ‘generally’ classified as dangerous sports. What this means is that anyone who chooses to engage in certain outdoor activities should talk to their insurance company to find out how to cover themselves adequately in the case of any incident. Most insurance companies will increase your premiums or advice you to take a personal accident cover that would cushion you in the event that you are injured while out on the trail.

The other thing, that I cannot stress enough, is that you as an adult who has chosen to participate in a dangerous sport, are largely responsible for your safety while you are in the outdoors. The expedition leader will liaise with the local guides and armed rangers (if you are trekking in an environment that is protected by the wildlife authorities) however you are the only one who knows how you feel, when you are feeling it and when you need a break. You need to know your limitations and not be afraid to voice them to the group leader.

As an expedition leader I tell my hikers that they need to alert me when they feel a change to their body as I cannot tell that something is wrong until things have escalated. I may be meeting you for the very first time and do not know your usual demeanor. This means I will not be able to detect when things are changing. This reminds me of a trip up one of the BIG mountains where I had already briefed everyone on what to expect and of course to alert me to changes in their body, no matter how slight. One of the hikers did not mention when he started to feel ill and by the time I caught on that he was unwell, the condition had already escalated. Thankfully we were descending from the mountain and therefore he was able to get the medical attention that he required. I will say it again, you are responsible for your self and you should never feel embarrassed to ask or say when something is going on. Something as small as a headache on ground zero may be an indicator of a bigger problem while on the mountain and therefore you should tell your expedition leader what you are feeling as you go along and allow them to make the assessment and advice you as need be.

This brings me to the next point. Ensure that you have a competent expedition leader. Someone who would know what to do in the case of an emergency. Most times there is little or no network on the mountain; and in many cases, even having phone reception would not be of much assistance because of the weather conditions and terrain on the mountain.

IMG-20170619-WA0050During our last hike to Oldoinyo Lengai in Tanzania, this proved to us how important it is to listen and obey when you are out in the wild. With no phone reception we were primarily on our own. In the event that there would have been an injury, we would have had to ferry the injured person to the base of the mountain by ourselves with no help from anyone else. Thankfully that did not happen. However a couple of years back we did have an incident and again there was no phone reception, we had to do what we could to safely get the injured person back to safety.

Having medical evacuation cover is very good. However this rescue is not as automatic as you would want to believe. First you need to be able to call the evacuation team, second you need to stabilize the patient, and third there needs to be a safe place for the air ambulance to land. Talk to your provider to find out what the protocol is for rescue and then find out if your expedition leader is equipped to handle any said emergency.

No matter how much you prepare and take precautions, remember that hiking and mountaineering is a dangerous sport and you need to go in knowing that you alone have chosen to participate in this sport. Make the right choices and above all go out and conquer the mountains around you. In doing so you will also conquer yourself.

Go to our website to find out more about who we are and what we do; www.mountainslayers.com

Author: mountainslayerskenya

The world is God’s gift to us. To enjoy a gift, you need to unwrap it. Mountain Slayers seeks to unwrap this gift through exploring various destinations in Kenya, East Africa and the world at large. There is no better way to interact with the world than on foot- 'One step at a time' Our tenet as Mountain Slayers- Kenya is; ‘Treasure and nourish relationships’  Relationship with God  Relationship with Self  Relationship with others  Relationship with the environment

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