Health and Safety

5 Aug 2021

Being at the mercy of public spaces and in the untamed New Zealand landscape creates an element of risk.  Many natural dangers I won’t be able to control but sun, little biting insects and sharp or poisonous plants I should be able to manage.

River crossings and road safety are decisions to be made at the time, the official TA guide gives good information for me to follow. 

The most likely safety concerns include injury while undertaking the challenges as well as managing my health while enduring them.  Some of the threats posed are; health decline or illness, poor sanitation and hygiene, satisfactory nutrition and resupply, the general public and the Covid community threats.

Here are some simple tips I’ve picked up to remain healthy.  

  • Eat what I want from my food bag, don’t save it for later, I’ll be happier doing this. 
  • Snack throughout the day and remain hydrated, I’ll retain energy. 
  • Use my first aid kit on scrapes and bruises, use antiseptic cream and cover cuts.  Ensure infections don’t escalate. 
  • Water, I’m still confident I can source good water from free running rivers and streams yet to be sure my water is free of nasties I will carry water purification drops and a water filter. 
  • Hygiene, keep myself clean, it sounds easier than it is. 
  • Stretch morning and night, easy to forget. 
  • Rest, let the body relax and heal overnight. 

Some mental notes to remain resilient under pressure. 

  • Keep warm and keep moving, stop for breaks and when I really have to stop keep warm.  
  • Remind myself that nothing encountered today was life threatening, I haven’t pressed the PLB button so I am alright. 
  • There will be challenges, so have fun with it. 
  • Understand this is also a mental sport. 

I’ll carry a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) and I’ve also completed a survival course that included knowing my position if lost.  The likelihood of getting lost in good weather can be real and sorted relatively easy but in poor weather this needs a plan before starting out. I have Topo Maps downloaded and can use GPS offline. 

Being cold, wet, hungry or tired are real dangers especially if I’m not sure of where I am. I’m carrying paper track notes with me should there be a problem or I lose my phone.  Guthooks maps can be used off line too.   

Most sections are less than a few days long yet some are up to nine days.  Making good decisions from weather forecasts and hiking with others where the weather is fickle is something to be aware of. 

Did you know? 

You need permission from a land owner to light a fire on their land.  And, in the back country on public conservation land, cooking and warming fires can be lit but you have to follow DOC guidelines. 

A campfire can also be lit in a permanent fireplace which has been constructed and positioned by DOC.  It is an offence to damage flora and fauna managed by DOC.  

Not as simple as that, fire lighting is a skill so is fire containment. 

Can you live a whole life cautiously? 

-Barbara Hazilla- 

Photos by Sandra Davies

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