A family of four hiking. The father and son is reading a map.

Enjoy a safe day outdoors by keeping personal safety top of mind

Summer is a beautiful time to relish the numerous outdoor activities South Africa has to offer with family and friends. If you’re planning a trip to somewhere like the picturesque Hartbeespoort Dam for a braai or picnic, with the warm sun overhead and the gentle summer breeze rustling through the trees, Fidelity ADT encourages you to prioritise safety. This is especially important if you are venturing out alone.

Charnel Hattingh, group head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT, reminds us that personal safety is a shared responsibility between the police, private security and other stakeholders and each individual member of the public.

“It’s wonderful to explore new places and see things through different eyes, but be aware that venturing into the unfamiliar does make you vulnerable to getting lost or perhaps making a bad judgement call,” she says. “Unfamiliar areas and routes may also be prone to rapidly changing weather or terrain, and many nature spots also do not have good cellphone reception.

“To ensure any outing you undertake is memorable for the right reasons and that you are able to get help in an emergency, it is advisable to explore trails in groups. Steer away from isolated areas unless you are accompanied by a guide.”

Hattingh further offers these 10 tips for a safe outing:

  1. Never hike alone; four or more in a group is safer.
  2. Always tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be back. Send a pin location if you can.
  3. Have at least one fully charge cellphone with you and enquire beforehand about reception in the area. Save emergency numbers.
  4. Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit and be aware of anyone in the group with a medical condition or allergy etc.
  5. Plan your route and stick to designated paths to avoid getting lost. Allow for ample time to finish the hike before it gets dark. If you are battling in daylight, things are bound to become much worse if you lose the light, too.
  6. Don’t take risks or shortcuts and always respect restricted areas – there’s a good reason the sign says ‘no entry’.
  7. Preferably don’t carry other valuables apart from a phone.
  8. Be wary of everyone you come across, especially suspicious ‘hikers’ who aren’t wearing hiking clothes or carrying a backpack. If you are confronted by a mugger, hand over your stuff without resistance. The mugger can be armed with a knife or gun, and your cellphone or hiking boots are not worth your life.
  9. Pack sufficient water and snacks.
  10. Dress appropriately. Pack a warm jacket, no matter what the weather. The weather can change quickly on hiking trails.

Emergency phone numbers to save on your phone:

  • SAPS – 10111
  • Crime Stop – 08600 10111
  • Mobile phone emergency – 112
  • The control room of your private security provider

“Let’s not beat around the bush – criminals take advantage of any situation and do appear on hiking or cycling trails and rob people. It is advisable to stay away from deserted picnic areas or isolated sites, and do some research before deciding on your outdoor adventure,” Hattingh advises.

“Even if you know the area like the back of your hand, rather be safe than sorry by taking the necessary precautions before you set off. This way, everyone gets to keep special memories and return home safely. Much of what keeps us safe is nothing more than common sense. Enjoy the beauty of summer responsibly – and stay safe!”

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