17 April 2009

Preventing Mountain Incidents

Three Steps to Preventing an Incident or Accident in the Mountains

1. Skills & Knowledge
2. Awareness of Potential Hazards
3. Correct Gear to Prevent a Minor Incident Becoming a Serious Incident

1. Skills & Knowledge

  • Complete a training course
  • Build up experience with other skilled hikers
  • Plan your route carefully
  • Be aware of any difficult or dangerous sections
  • Have escape options planned so you can cut your walk short
  • Know the weather forecast and apply the forecast to your walk

2. Awareness of Potential Hazards

  • Cold - Hypothermia: plenty of layers; spare clothes, hats & gloves; hot drink; don't sweat; stay dry; temperature drops by 1 degree per 100 metres ascent approx
  • Heat - Dehydration/Sun Stroke: plenty of water before walk; drink water all day; avoid coffee; don't be hungover
  • Rain/Sleet/Hail: wrap up; stay dry & warm; keep backpack contents dry
  • Wind: wrap up; avoid heights, cliffs & saddles; pick shelter at lunch; don't let map get blown away
  • Streams/Rivers: don't jump from rock to rock, in case of injury; never cross anything above your boots
  • Steep Ground: small groups; stay close together; test each foothold & handhold; communicate; stop a slipping person before they begin falling
  • Rock Fall: stop a slipping rock before it begins falling; shelter against the mountainside; shout 'below' to warn others; protect head & don't look up
  • Snow/Ice: good equipment; be prepared for conditions; things are often much more serious; ground can be covered from sight & make walking difficult
  • Ability: know your limitations and your friends limitations
  • Improper Equipment: cheap & cheerful gear will do a good job up to a certain level, but you will get what you pay for; even if it's a sunny day pack your backpack for all situations
  • Medical Problems: does anyone have any medical problems & if so do they have their medication with them
  • Darkness: begin early; carry torches & spare batteries
  • Remote Areas: not everywhere has phone reception; 4/6 hours is average time for mountain rescue to reach you
  • Lightning: don't stand on hill tops!
  • Bogs: don't fall into them! the greener it is, the deeper it is

3. Correct Gear to Prevent a Minor Incident Becoming a Serious Incident

  • Don't overload your backpack but at the same time don't be complacent about what gear you carry
  • Have a rucksack liner, or bin bag, to keep your backpack contents dry
  • Always carry a hot drink - hot ribena or hot water are good
  • Whistle, to use if someone gets lost, if you get lost or if you want to attract help
  • Torch, to use if you get caught in darkness
  • First aid kit with bandages & plasters
  • Charged mobile phone
  • Double survival bag for warming up someone who's very cold
  • Kissu/Group Shelter for keeping whole group warm, or for lunch on a wet, windy day
  • Have enough gear in your backpack to be able to wait safely for mountain rescue for 4/6 hours

Most Common Injuries:

Injuries or incidents will lead to hypothermia fairly quickly if not treated

What is Hypothermia?

  • Gradual Cooling of Body Core

What Causes Hypothermia?

  • Cold, Wet
  • Tired, Hungry
  • Dehydration, Stress

How Will I Recognise Hypothermia?

  • Shivering
  • Umbles - Stumbling, Mumbling, Fumbling, Grumbling
  • Shivering Stops

How Will I Treat Hypothermia?

  • Call Mountain Rescue
  • Dry Clothes, Lukewarm Drink
  • Survival Bag, Kissu/Group Shelter, Reassurance

How Will I Prevent Hypothermia?

  • Route Choice, Weather Awareness
  • Group Awareness, Fitness
  • Equipment, Food & Hot Drink

It may only take one or two factors to cause hypothermia and there may only be one or two recognition signs

Early recognition and treatment is vital!

Click here for details of Mountain Skills Courses

Basic Hiking Equipment List

1 comment:

  1. Feel free to agree, disagree or add your own suggestions...