Safety in the Mountains
" Never climb on your own
Four is considered an ideal size for a party - small enough not to be slowed by size; large enough to cope with emergencies.
" Be prepared for unplanned events
Many seasoned mountaineers have had to sit it out in a storm; or even in darkness. Wear suitable outdoors clothing and boots or shoes that won't give up before you do. Pack wind and rain proof clothing, torch (with spare batteries and globes); sufficient food and drink, plus a 24-hour emergency ration, and small emergency aid kit. Carry these items in a backpack, not in a plastic shopping bag!
" Stick to easy routes
Until you know your way around an area, stick to well-worn paths ("trade routes"). Go down the way you came up, or follow another route down, but only if you are certain of where it will lead. Always regard signs advising of danger as being for your protection and don't take "short cuts". " Take a guidebook and map/compass, or a clearly written description, and sketch map of the route, from a friend who has done the route.
" Make sure a responsible person knows your route
Don't just tell them: Write it down on paper! People never expect the worst; consequently they may not listen properly. By the time they realise that you are overdue, they may have forgotten all those "funny" place names you mentioned! Write the intended route down on paper (starting, turning, and finishing point, and estimated time of return). Then stick to this route and plan. If anything should happen and a rescue team has to be sent out, then at least they will know where to start looking for you!
" Stay together
Travel at the pace of the slowest member. Never split the party and go at different paces; or in different directions. Always choose a route according to the ability, fitness and experience of the party.
" Watch the weather and the time
Being caught in a blizzard or thunderstorm, or overnighting on a cold mountain, without sleeping bags and food is definitely not part of the fun!!! If, despite all precautions, you do get caught in a strom or the dark, stay put! Do not try to force your way down in freak weather storms, mist, darkness, etc. Find shelter - out of the wind.
In an emergency
" Getting lost
If you feel uncertain of where you are, or find yourself in an area that look unsafe, retrace your steps! Do not try and pioneer "new" routes, however great the pull of the adventure. If you are unable to find the path you came on, look for a safe route - preferably down broad open ground or slopes - and never down unknown ravines, where you may end up having to learn how to rockclimb!
" In the event of an accident
Keep calm, and stay together as a party until you have ascertained the nature and the extent of the emergency. Make notes of " place, " time of accident, " nature and extent of injuries, " nature of terrain (accessibility, etc), etc. Rescues can be effected much quicker if the Rescue Officer knows exactly what to prepare for.
T-h-i-n-k!Before you rush off to report the incident: Is this person really a "chopper-case"?
" It sometimes happens, that a person knocked unconscious from a fall, once they have recovered from the shock, can be "walked out" to the nearest place of treatment. 99% of the time this is much quicker than mounting a rescue party.
" If they can't be walked out, can they be moved to a more accessible place? (Note: In case of back injuries - even if only suspected - DO NOT move the injured party! Unless it is absolutely necessary to do so for safety reasons!)
" For safety purposes, send two persons for help This party must make notes of landmarks as they travel to the nearest point of refuge, so that they will be able to describe as exact as possible, and guide or direct a rescue party to the scene of the accident.
" Caring for the injured party " First and foremost, make sure the injured person is kept warm and out of the wind. (Chill-factors and shock can be a lethal combination!) Administer first-aid treatment as soon as possible. (But: Only if you know what you are doing - sometimes no treatment is safer than incorrect treatment! eg: Administering drugs, even aspirin, to traumatised persons may cause severe reactions!)
" Leave at least one person with the injured. This person must remain with the injured until help arrives. Firstly, to ensure the injured is comforted, does not wander off (eg: the edge of a cliff, in their dazed state), etc. Secondly, because members wandering away from the point where the rescue party is heading, may themselves, while on their own, become disoriented, especially after a traumatic experience, and get lost.)
Comments, suggestions, alterations, additions, etc, welcome!