A note of a few do's and don'ts to ensure that you stay safe out in the hills.
Being prepared for your outdoor adventures is of the utmost importance to ensure that you have an enjoyable experience and remain safe. This includes, for example, taking along the correct equipment and clothing, being aware of weather conditions (and that these can change rapidly) and knowing what to do in an emergency. We strongly advise anyone intending to head for the hills to consult the thorough There and Back Safely document compiled by CapeNature for a comprehensive guide to hiking safety considerations, information, responsibilities and emergency procedures. As an essential bare minimum, Forge advises the following;
Have at least another person accompanying you. The minimum recommended group size is four.
Identify your chosen route prior to setting out and let someone (not coming along) know of your intended route.
Have the relevant emergency contacts (see ‘Emergency Contacts’) saved on your phone and on your person.
Wear a hat and sunblock.
Check the weather beforehand.
Ensure your phone battery is fully charged (We also suggest carrying a fully charged power-bank).
Take a minimum of 1l of water. Never assume you will find drinkable water en route.
Carry a backpack with the following:
warm jacket or windbreaker;
headlamp with spare batteries
SEARCH & RESCUE: BE PREPARED
If you find yourself in an emergency situation that requires Search and Rescue services, make the operation as easy as possible by having the following information readily available and stay on the call as long as required. For all location-based information be sure to use the Forge Mobile App:
Your contact number
Description of what has happened, when and where
Number of victims and bystanders
Injuries sustained and first aid given
Who else is on-scene to assist
“Don’t be kak. Be lekker”. Use common sense and courtesy and share the trail with other users. When intending to pass someone, announce your intentions to them and slow your pace. Generally, mountain bikers yield to hikers although all trail users, downhill yields to uphill.
CRIME-RELATED THREATS TO PERSONAL SAFETY
There has been a rise in attacks on hikers, runners and cyclists on the Cape Peninsula since 2013. Attacks can be aggressive, violent and potentially life-threatening. Crime tends to shift as combatting it shifts, meaning places in the Cape Peninsula, including Table Mountain National Park, are unfortunately unlikely to ever be crime free. Be aware that you are responsible for your decision to hike in such circumstances and should be aware of the inherent risks involved, take provisions to look after your own safety and take the appropriate precautions. It is important to keep up to date through social media and news reports regarding incidents and avoid high-risk areas accordingly.
Here are some strategies adapted from the Mountain Club of South Africa Cape Town Section to enhance your safety out on the mountains:
Avoid vehicle break-ins by never leaving any items exposed in your car. Take only essential valuables with you to a hike and ensure other items are stowed in the boot, out of sight.
Hike in a group. While this does not preclude being attacked, it may serve as a deterrent.
Be aware of potential threats. The suddenness of an attack leads to panic, which may exacerbate the situation. An alert, obviously aware group, poses a harder target.
If attacked, it is advisable NOT to resist and fight back. Handing over your “valuables” decreases the chances of being harmed (although unfortunately, this is not always the case). Your life is more important than your possessions.
In the event that you can see that an attack is imminent, hide your cell-phone in the vegetation or rocks so that you are able to summon help much faster afterwards.
Keep the emergency contact numbers on your phones. Check that all members of the party have these numbers. Also keep those numbers somewhere on your person:
Metro Emergency Medical Services: 021 937 0300
Will activate Mountain Rescue and are capable of escalating your call to all relevant agencies.
Public Emergency Communication Centre: 021 480 7700
A central control centre for reporting crime (mountain-related or other).