Prepare for the worst (expect the best)
The other day I joked about how I had to feed James some of the food from my emergency stash before he turned green and his shirt tore off ..
Although at the time he lamented about how he should have just shut up and starved as he listened to me lecturing him on the importance of being prepared before heading out onto the trail. At least this time he carried water with him as I’d asked if he could wear a hydration pack to carry additional water “for me” as I’d never been in the area and I was unsure how long it would take us (although I will say that he ended up drinking it).
Some people might think it’s going a tad overboard to carry emergency supplies when you’re only heading out for a “quick trail run” to which I’d reply “perhaps you should tell that to all those people who have gone out for a walk and ended up being stuck in the bush for days until someone finds them.”
In fact after a month of continually reading about people veering off a trail and becoming lost (and the latest was just in this mornings paper) I decided that I should take my outdoor safety much more seriously.
Now if I’m on a trail where I carry water, I’m also carrying at least the bare minimum that will get me by should the worst case scenario occur, even if happens to be as safe as running down Tamaki Drive on Auckland’s waterfront with the 1000’s of other recreational runners – not that I’d actually carry a laden pack along Tamaki Drive as I could simply phone someone to come and rescue me (or flag down one of the myriad of other road users) unfortunately it’s not quite that easy when you’re out on the trail.
The Bare Essentials;
- Cell phone
- Personal Locator Beacon
- Headlamp (because quite frankly I’m scared of the dark)
- Emergency bag – those silver blanket things
- Seam sealed waterproof jacket
- Spare batteries (for both the phone and headlamp)
- A small amount of food
- A small first aid kit including hand sanitizer and a lighter.
- Pencil & Pad
As you can see most of my bare essentials are items that would keep me warm and dry until someone comes to rescue me after receiving the distress call from my Personal Locator Beacon, in fact even if I’m just out for a short forest walk with the kids I’ll grab the PLB and carry it with me – prepare for the worst ..
If I’m going out for a longer period of time (2+ hours) or into an area I am unfamiliar with (especially if I’m going solo) I carry a few additional items (just in case)
- Merino tights
- A handheld GPS (and additional batteries)
I will admit that I tend to be a little more lax if James is with me, because if I get injured my plan would be to get him to carry me out or if he was struggling, for him to run back and get help (which is why you pick the ones with the good genes) on the other hand if he fell down a cliff (because quite frankly he does have a tendency to trip over his own feet) my plan is to yell “she’ll be right dove”, activate the personal locator beacon, sit down and wait. I might even throw him down some food because he’d probably already have eaten anything that he was carrying. 😉
Sometimes I feel like a bit of a dork carrying all those things, especially as I pass people wandering along the trail in jandals carrying their phone in one hand and their car keys in the other but honestly – who cares?!?! I’ve got babies to get home too and it’s much better to feel like a bit of a dork than sorry because I let my ego get in the way!
If you want to get more information on keeping safe in the outdoors (which you definitely should), the Adventure Smart website is a great starting point – This site links to existing safety information for land, snow, water, boating and air activities together under one umbrella with the aim of making it easier for people to plan and prepare their adventures and ultimately take responsibility for their own safety.
I also found these downloadable pdf files from the Mountain Safety Council that I think have relevant information for trail runners even though they have been written with trampers in mind. The first is “Going Outdoors“, the second is “Plan to Survive” and finally “Hypothermia“. You can find the entire list of pamphlets on offer here.
And one more thing – carrying survival basics is a very good start but don’t forget the other 4 important safety measures ..
Keep safe out there people.
Till next time