Admittedly, there are inherent risks when you go outdoors. Rather than being put off, it is better to recognize what these risks are and how you can protect yourself.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible risks and any attempt to cover everything is impossible. If you think there are significant risks we have not adequately covered, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
The first risk is on your own personal safety. And while we recognize that there are specific parties who should be accountable for people’s safety (i.e. tour organizers, local authorities, LGUs, police and rescue etc.), you should first and foremost be accountable and proactive for your own personal safety.
Below are important things that you should keep in mind when going outdoors:
- Let someone know where you’re going and your estimated time of return. Leave a copy of your itinerary and contact numbers of the people you’re going with.
- Always login/logout at registration outposts available in most jump off points. Ask people around for its location or drop by the police station or barangay hall if there is none. Get their contact numbers in case of an emergency.
- Come prepared. Do your research about the practicalities and and special precautions or danger points of your destination. Bring enough supplies, gears and other equipment (if necessary).
- Bring a phone with enough battery and put it in a plastic bag . While signal is never assured, they can be very helpful in case of an emergency.
- Bring a first aid kit containing basic items to treat a wound and other injuries, including special medications if any, together with instructions on how to administer them.
- Bring extra water and food supply.
Safety Reminders When Hiking
- Hike with an experienced and responsible group. The group must have adequate experience in hiking and the place. There should be proper briefing of participants and coordination with authorities.
- Avoid taking photos in perilous places. Give at least a meter of allowance from the edge of cliff or ravines.
- Always heed the advise of mountain guides and local authority. They know the place better than anyone else.
- Get a guide if available. It may entail some costs but will greatly enhance your safety and experience through their knowledge of the place. Plus you’re helping their livelihood.
- Obey all instructions/regulations from the proper authorities.
- Do not attempt a river crossing unless you are completely sure of its safety (see special precautions below for river crossings).
- Do not be afraid to raise your concerns to your lead/trip organizers/guide or if you feel something isn’t right or if dangers are imminent.
- When the weather is not cooperating, be ready to cancel your trip. Surely you can return again when conditions are more favorable.
Safety Reminders When Going Swimming
The beach can be one of the best places to hang around. When people say that life’s a beach, they’re really saying that life in the beach is relaxing and nice and good times.
However, no matter how serene and peaceful life at the beach can be, it doesn’t mean that you should throw caution into the air. Below are safety reminders you should keep in mind when going swimming.
- Ensure there is a lifeguard around. If a lifeguard isn’t available, assign someone who is a strong swimmer (if possible, someone with rescue and emergency training) to act as lifeguard.
- Ask the local guide or authorities if it is safe to swim in an area. Do not swim on your own as there might be dangerous undercurrents or dangerous areas.
- Don’t swim in bad weathers.
- Never swim when intoxicated. Keep an eye on intoxicated persons who may wander off into the water.
- Dive gently and feet first during your first dive in an area.
- Pay close attention to young children and elderly persons.
- Leave aquatic plants and animals alone as they may pose dangers if interfered.
- When swimming in rivers and waterfalls, always check the depth and if there are any obstructions such as sharp rocks. Keep an eye on slippery portions.
- If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current.
- Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.
- If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
- If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
- If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. Throw the victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current.
- When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.
Special Precaution: River Crossing Safety
River crossings are usual features in Philippine geography. And while many of them are picturesque and adds a certain flavor to an adventure, river crossings present a very tangible danger.
The website pinoymountaineer.com reported that a significant number of hiking related fatalities are due to river crossing mishaps. Therefore it is very important to exert utmost care and precaution when a river crossing is involved in your trip.
Below are some of the key things to remember about river crossings.
- If you can, choose a route that avoids river crossings. Philippine geography and weather patterns mean that mountains usually receive a good amount of intense and sometimes sudden rainfall, leading to swollen rivers and flash floods. Hence it is always a good idea to stay out of a river system and its surrounding banks.
- When in doubt, wait it out. If you have any doubt about the river’s depth, strength, or other external factors, move to higher ground and wait it out. This is true even if the river is the only thing that separates you from comfort or your target destination.
- Never underestimate the strength of moving water. Moving water as shallow as shin level can knock a person off his feet.
- If crossing is already in progress and you discovered that the water is deeper or the current is more powerful than anticipated, turn back immediately and reconsider.
- Do not be apphensive to set up an emergency camp. You can survive for a week without food but only a few minutes without oxygen.
- Do not make the mistake of thinking that tying ropes or using ropes as a lifeline is a guarantee, Experts have found out that it is very dangerous to tie someone with a rope because they would usually end up being spun, thrashed and forced down by the surging waters. Use ropes only when you have the technical know how.
- Camp away a good distance from river banks and other low lying areas. River waters are known to rise by several meters during flash floods.
- If possible, gain necessary expertise in the safety procedures and techniques of river crossings.
Risks are something you can never discount on. As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry. Some wonders, why do you need to go outdoors when you can be safe in your homes?
Our answer is twofold. First, if it is your passion, then you should never let fear or anything else stop you. It is the risk you want to minimize and not your desire to follow your dreams. If mankind allowed fear to take over its destiny, then we would still be in the stone age now.
Second, risk is everywhere, just in different forms. There are risks when you cross the street, go to the mall, and even while sleeping in your own home.
The good thing is that you can develop a mindset of safety first. Be conservative in your decision making (short of being a party pooper of course). Put everyone’s welfare on top of the list, arm yourself with the necessary knowledge and of course, ask for guidance and protection from the Higher Being.