Three outdoor incidents last weekend demonstrated how following the Outdoor Safety Code and planning a trip well, before leaving home, have produced positive results for those involved.
Two American students, Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth, sparked a search and rescue operation in the Arthur’s Pass area after spending nine days in the bush. The area they were in experienced heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures for several days until their friends reported them missing on Saturday night having failed to return on Wednesday as expected. They had made some good decisions, such as not crossing a river, rationing their food and staying put until help arrived, but admitted in an interview on Campbell Live that they should have left written intentions via the AdventureSmart website which would have raised the alert earlier.
A 37-year-old Featherston man, hunting with a friend at the Aorangi Forest Park, slipped on a steep track near Martinborough and injured his ankle. The companion walked to a nearby house to raise the alarm and was able to direct the rescue helicopter to the injured man's location.
A second injured hunter was also rescued from Lake Rotorangi near Rotorua. The man had fallen off a one-metre high bank injuring his knee. He activated his emergency locator beacon and the responding Life Flight Trust helicopter winched a paramedic down to the clearing where he was lying, before flying him to Whanganui Hospital where he was treated for leg injuries.
“Each of these examples show how being prepared and planning well before a trip into New Zealand’s great outdoors provides a much better chance of a successful trip, even if things go wrong as they sometimes do in the outdoors,” says the NZ Mountain Safety Council Chief Executive Darryl Carpenter.
“The outdoor safety messages seem to be getting through particularly ‘plan your trip’ and ‘know before you go,’ but there’s always more that can be done,’ said Mr Carpenter.
The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council has been working with the Department of Conservation, Police, LandSAR and NZ Search and Rescue, other outdoor organisations and interested parties to develop a consistent set of outdoor safety messages supported by readily accessible information and resources to support getting more people out into the outdoors and returning safely.
“We are working together under the common theme of encouraging participation, while supporting people to be safe, without losing the essence of the ‘adventure’ that makes the ‘outdoors’ special. Whether it is a family walk in the local park, a more adventurous day walk or a multi-day expedition, the preparation principles are the same,” added Carpenter.
The positive outcome of the examples mentioned above and the arrival of winter with a vengeance last week provides a timely reminder for us all.
Outdoor enthusiasts of all types and levels of experience are encouraged to visit www.adventuresmart.org.nz for useful tips, information and resources and for those venturing into the snow check out www.avalanche.net.nz for the latest avalanche advisories.
“We want people to get into the outdoors, and get back home safely”. “We want them to be adventure smart,” finishes Carpenter.
The New Zealand Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip - Seek local knowledge and plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.
2. Tell someone - Tell someone your plans and complete your written Outdoors Intentions using the tools available at www.adventuresmart.org.nz
At the very least, tell a friend or family member where you are going and a date and time for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.
3.Be aware of the weather - New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes.
4. Know your limits - Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.
5. Take sufficient supplies - Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication, such as a Mountain Radio or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and know how to use them.
For further information about safety in the outdoors, courses and training, information on intentions forms or communication devices, please visit www.mountainsafety.org.nz