Basic rules for hiking safety

2013-01-07 14:52
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Supermoon over Cape Town

2012-05-07 14:23

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Table Mountain National Park is a World Heritage Site and an ecologically sensitive area with plants and animals that occur nowhere else in the world. This globally unique and much-loved environment also offers some of South Africa's most amazing hiking experiences, with Lions Head being particularly popular.

Increased reports of emergency rescues, with the most recent one being fatal after a local fell to his death while hiking with his daughter, has SANParks urging all hikers to be especially careful and to keep their wits about them when it comes to safety. 

It's harrowing to consider that more people die on Table Mountain than on Mount Everest. The SANPark’s safety and security strategy aims at preventing incidents before it happens – with 52 dedicated trained staff equipped with dogs, vehicles and radios as they patrol the park. They also work closely with the South African Police Service.

If you’re planning a hike keep the following in mind…

- Program emergency numbers in your cellphone before your hike.

Main emergency number: 086 110 6417
Emergency SAPS (South African Police Service): 10111 (02110111 on cell)
Emergency CT Emergency Services: (021) 480 7700
Emergency CT Central OPS Centre: (021) 467 8002

- Don’t hike alone; four is the ideal number.
- Choose your route carefully and stick to it.
- Allow yourself enough time - start early.
- Inform someone of your route and what time you’re expected back.
- Choose a hike leader and walk at the pace of the slowest member.
- If lost - don’t split up. Rather try to retrace your steps. Remember that climbing down is more difficult than climbing up.
- Always take waterproof clothing, even in mid-summer, and wear walking shoes or hiking boots. Wear a hat or cap and sun block in summer. Weather changes rapidly.
- If lost or forced to stop because of bad weather, stay together and remain in one place. Find the closest shelter from wind and rain.
- In case of injury, take time to assess the situation. Then send two people for help and let the third remain with the injured person. If possible, mark the position on a map and send it with those going for help.
- Stick to well-used paths, which will be indicated on the Park's hiking map and read the warnings on this map. Don’t take shortcuts and especially don’t wander into ravines.
- Always take enough water, especially in summer, and food in case of a delay. Watch the weather and time; turn back before you start running late or if bad weather threatens.
- Take a fully-charged cellphone. Some parts of the Park do not have cell phone reception, but you will always be able to reach a place where you can use a cell phone more quickly than you’ll get to a landline.

SANparks urges you to keep the following in mind:
- Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints. Don't pick, break or trample any plants or flowers, or remove seeds, rocks or plants.
- Don't feed, touch or harm any of the animals or birds in the Park - dassies, baboons and even the African Penguin all have ferocious bites!
- Wild fires can cause loss of life and property. Never light fires anywhere other than in designated braai (barbecue) areas. Do not throw cigarette butts anywhere.

Visitors are also encouraged to check out the Information Centres established in the parking areas on Tafelberg Road and at Lion’s Head, and a security hut placed at the bottom of Platteklip Gorge.
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