What are the Risks and Hazards of the Hiking Trail?
The Arrive Alive website too often receives reports from emergency services on the need for an evacuation from hiking trails. But why would an evacuation be required and what are the most common emergencies?
- Hikers getting lost.
- Medical incidents such as strokes, heart attacks, and illnesses.
- Fatigue, hypothermia, dehydration, and heat exhaustion.
- Injuries from slips and falls on the trail.
- Injuries caused by animals, snakes, and insects on the trail.
- Hikers getting trapped or injured by forces of nature such as flooding, veld fires, and lightning.
- Injuries brought about by criminal attacks, assaults, and robberies.
Hiking Gear, Clothing and Safety Equipment
What should a hiker be wearing for safety on the trail?
- Always go prepared for severe weather, i.e. take proper weatherproof clothing even on a sunny day (wind and rainproof).
- Wear a hat and sunblock and possibly sunglasses.
- In wintry weather wear a warm cap/beanie to prevent heat loss.
- Moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics that keep your skin dry and help regulate your body temperature in both cold and warm weather. Avoid cotton which holds moisture.
- When hiking in cool weather, always dress in layers. You can always take clothing off if you get too hot.
- Wear an outer layer of clothing that is water-resistant. This will prevent you from getting chilled should it start to rain.
- Avoid unpleasant and unnecessary falls by purchasing the correct hiking shoes and trekking poles.
- Waterproof, sturdy, and comfortable shoes or boots.
- A good pair of trail trainers or hiking shoes with traction and non-slip soles to protect the ankles.
- Avoid brand new shoes Break them in well before you wear them on the trails. Having to brand new shoes on when hiking can cause sore feet and blisters at the end of the day.
- Avoid borrowing hiking boots from someone else as you will never know if they are broken in or too worn when getting them this way.
- Breathable socks [pack an extra pair]
- A watch or other timekeeping device.