Safety First in the Outdoors

When we head into the great outdoors to practice our sports and follow our passions, we imagine the great adventure and physical challenges we will encounter when we go higher, faster and farther or try get the best photos and selfie moments in nature…. But what about when something goes wrong…unfortunately there are too many cases in which someone has to  be rescued due to the increasing instability and uncertainty of climate phenomena and accidents that can occur when practicing sports outdoors—but these are not always due to dramatic events, but can also be related to other conditions.S

In 2018 the Aiut Alpin Dolomiti (helicopter rescue service) of Italy reported a total of 996 interventions, 529 in winter and 476 in the summer: while 220 were related to skiing, 128 were associated with excursions (mainly in the summer) and a third of the total—330—involved medical emergencies—only 11 were related to avalanches and 26 to climbing. Of the 1013 people assisted, 48 were fatalities. While these helicopter rescue statistics only reveal part of the story in only one part of the world where outdoor sports are practiced, safety can never be taken for granted—and hopefully our community will not have to rely on the heroic efforts of rescue services like the Aiut Alpin – or can at least make their efforts easier in case we do need them.

Safety should never be taken for granted, especially as climate change creates extreme phenomena that wreak havoc on the snow and ice cover and often leave outdoor sports persons at the mercy not only of avalanches, but flash floods, landslides, violent rain storms, “bombe di acqua” and sharp temperature fluxes. As the statistics show, many emergencies are due to medical conditions. Fortunately, besides following safety rules—respecting avalanche warnings, informing others where you are going, keeping cellphones charged and staying on marked paths if you are an amateur, and taking appropriate clothing and footgear, the market now offers many other options for safety—and if there is a need, aids in facilitating rescue. ISPO in February of this year featured a number of products aimed at safety: in the next few weeks we will be presenting a number of these products on HorizonSports.