The Outdoor Safety Code

We are stong on safety at RedMoose as part of this we recommendthe the use of The Outdoor Safety Code across all outdoor activities, sports and recreations. Click here to see the full Outdoor Safety Code video.

• Plan your trip

Seek local knowledge, plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.

Ensuring that you appropriately prepare for your excursion is essential for both your safety, and your enjoyment. Below are some tips and questions for the quick run down.

Ask yourself:

Where are we going?
Do we need permission for access?
Who is going?
How long shall we go for?
What shall we take?
Have I told anyone my plans?

Gaining permission

Consent from the land owner is imperative. Going onto land without the consent of the owner can expose you to legal problems. Contacting the land owner can key you into things like poison drops, commercial operations or track/hut/bridge repairs or removal.

Having gained consent from the land owner, you now have to gain access to the route. It may require obtaining a key and will definitely involve transport to the start and from the end of your trip.

• Tell someone

Tell someone your plans and leave a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.

Although most trips into the outdoors go without a hitch, you need to be fully prepared so that if the unexpected happens there are appropriate measures in place to recognise there is a problem, alert the appropriate authorities and, if necessary, enable rescuers to find you quickly.

• Be aware of the weather 

New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable.  Check the forecast and expect weather changes.

Weather has a major impact on trips in the outdoors. An easy and relaxed trip in warm weather can be physically and mentally demanding if the weather turns cold and wet. Strong winds, soft snow, or high rivers may make a route impassable.

• Know your limits

Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.

Some important questions to ask yourself before you venture into the outdoors:

What could go wrong?
What would cause it to go wrong?
How could you prevent it from going wrong
Whose responsibility is ?
When/where will it be done?
Do you have an Emergency Plan?

• Take sufficient supplies

Make sure you have enough food, equipment and emergency rations for the worst case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication.

Food should be:
Lightweight – freeze-dried, dehydrated meals, dried vegetables, milk powder, etc. Remove unnecessary packaging. High energy value – should contain proteins, fats and carbohydrates
in the proportion 1:1:4:
1: Proteins: meat, cheese, eggs, milk powder.
1: Fats: cheese, chocolate, butter, bacon, salami.
4: Carbohydrates: sugar, bread, muesli, rice, macaroni, sweets, dried fruit.

You will also need:
Snacks – biscuits, nuts, raisins, sweets, chocolate, scroggin, etc. Emergency food – soups, rice, pasta, sardines, dried fruit, cheese, biscuits. Take some that doesn’t need to be cooked. Fast cooking food is convenient.

Don’t forget to pack tea, coffee, a chocolate drink and sachets of powdered fruit drink. Carry water if you won’t be able to find any on your route.

Mountain Radios

Mountain Radio Service is a volunteer group that provides a backcountry communications service with scheduled calls for backcountry users.  - Canterbury Mountain Radio Service - Wellington Mountain Radio Service - Central North Island Mountain Radio Service 

Tranceivers: An essential for anyone entering the backcountry in an alpine environment.

You only have minutes to live if you are buried in an avalanche. If you are wearing a transceiver you have a significantly higher chance of being found quickly. So, whether you are recreating or working in avalanche prone terrain, you should always wear an avalanche transceiver and carry a shovel and a probe. 

Types of avalanche tranceivers:
Several models of transceivers are imported into New Zealand. All 457 kHz models are compatible with each other but some models are better at finding different types of transceivers than others. Some models are better at searching for multiple burials than others.

Each type has its own way of working. Some require you to make volume adjustments, while others do it for you. Some change the sound they make depending on how close you are, while others have lights or arrows pointing in the direction of the buried person. Some can give you instructions on what to do next and some return to transmit mode after a set amount of time.

Digital transceivers convert the signal from the buried set into visual and audible signals that aid the searcher. Analogue transceivers do not apply any enhancement to the signal; the beep you hear is the actual unprocessed signal from the transmitting set. There is a change in volume when the searching analogue set receives a stronger signal.

It is important to know how to use these features on your transceiver. It is also important to know how to use the generic search techniques described in this pamphlet that will work with all 457 kHz models. Older transceivers with a frequency other than 457 kHz, or that feature more than one frequency, are either incompatible or are technically insufficient and should be destroyed. If you are uncertain whether your transceiver complies with the EN* standards, contact the NZ agent of the manufacturer. 

Where to go for tranceivers:
Transceivers and safety equipment are available for purchase or hire through leading ski and snowboarding shops and outdoor equipment suppliers.

As with all safety tips we strongly recommend that if you are interested in pursuing back country recreational activities that you 'know your limits'.

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)

What are they? Small, emergency distress beacons that emit a UHF radio signal when activated. Search and Rescue operations use the signal to ‘find’ the beacons, as detailed below.

There are two frequencies available – 121.5MHz and 406MHz. However, the 121.5MHz type has been phased out and SHOULD NOT BE USED. Carry or purchase only a 406MHz beacon.

406 MHz beacons must be registered with Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand (RCCNZ) and a recommendation for  GPS equipped ones would also be a good idea. 

Note that personal locator beacons must only be used in life threatening situations.

How do they work?
Once activated, the signal is picked up by satellite and/or aircraft. An alert message is relayed to the nearest Local User Terminal (LUT, ground station), which calculates the beacon’s position and sends the data to the Mission Control Centre (MCC). The MCC then sends the information to the RCCNZ, which in turn initiates a class II rescue operation.

The Beacons operate with a clear view of the sky; avoid gorges or heavy foliage. Do not turn off once activated. Stay put.

If it is a false alarm, get a message to RCCNZ (0508-4RCCNZ, or 0508-472-269 or if outside New Zealand +64 4 577 8030) or Police as soon as possible.

Failure to do this may divert SAR resources from genuine emergencies and in doing so may endanger lives.

You need to drink water regularly – If you suspect the water is unsafe you should treat it by boiling, purifying or using a water filter.

All of the points can be expanded upon depending on your specific recreation and geographic location, so use them as a starting point and make sure you know all you can about your activity before you head out.