As the new year begins and resolutions are tested, here are 10 essential Items (from North Shore Rescue) for ensuring your safety during winter adventures and outdoor treks. Always tell a reliable person where you are going and when you expect to be back, leave a detailed trip itinerary and make sure you know your route.
Flashlight or a headlamp with extra batteries (and light bulb if not LED). Green cyalume stick or small turtle lights as emergency backup. The lack of light is the single most common cause of over-due hiker calls for Search and Rescue.
2. Signalling Device
Whistle (we recommend the Fox 40 whistle with a lanyard), Bear Bangers, Pencil Flare. Why a whistle? It is ideal for signalling for help as your voice will become very hoarse in a short period of time especially if you are dehydrated. We recommend the Fox 40 whistle because it works very well in wet conditions and has good range.
3. Fire Starter
Matches (water proof or in plastic bag) or lighter. We also recommend a commercial firestarter and/or a candle. Commercial firestarters can be purchased at outdoor or hardware stores.
4. Extra clothes
Hat, gloves or mittens, fleece jacket, Gortex jacket, polypro underwear, good quality hiking socks and Gortex over-pants.
5. Pocket knife
Although a multi tool is preferred, a good pocket knife with a quality blade will suffice. It may also be worth carrying a small pruning saw for cutting branches when building a shelter or fire.
Large orange plastic bag and thermal tarp. Why a large orange plastic bag? It’s actually one of the most valuable items on the list. Crawling into the bag helps keep you warm and dry. The orange colour is also highly visible and helps attract attention, particularly from the air.
(Gatorade crystals recommended) and food (high energy food bars) We recommend you drink between 1-2 litres of water before you hike and carry 1-2 litres. Hydration is directly proportional to your performance but also in maintaining essential fluid balance in your body. We also recommend you carry electrolyte, such as Gatorade, in order to replenished salt and potassium that are depleted during excessive exercise
8. First-aid kit
Should include pocket mask, Sam Splint, bulk dressings, protective gloves, bandage, scissors and blister dressings
Good quality compass with built in declination adjustment and both topographical and interpretive maps. We also recommend a GPS unit but only as an adjunct to compass and map. Most team members carry a Garmin 60 series GPS unit that has terrific reception in the trees.
10. Cell phone
We recommend you bring a cell phone with a fully charged battery. It is advisable to keep the phone turned off, and stored in a ziplock bag. This way, if you get into trouble your phone will be dry and have a full charge. Many people manage to call 911 initially but their phone dies before their location can be relayed, not a desirable situation.
Remember, electronics can fail, run out of batteries, or lose their signal. Telling someone where you are going, leaving a trip itinerary and bringing the essentials is critical to a safe outdoor excursion.