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Plan Your Trip

Tell Someone Your Plans

Be Aware Of The Weather

Know Your Limits

Take Sufficient Supplies

4. Know Your Limits

Planning for self sufficiency is a key part of risk management. Know the limits of yourself and your group.


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 it?
  • When/where will it be done?
  • Do you have an Emergency Plan?

Social and Psychological factors can create high risk situations.
Be aware of the points below:

1. Too familiar with the situation: The "it won't happen to me" illusion. Many incidents have been preceeded by near misses in the same area. Be aware of familiarity.

2. Dropping your guard: After being familiar with a situation, risks can rise when we stop monitoring our surroundings. Keep alert.

3. Risk Shift: We tend to be more brash and riskier in a group. This leads to poor decision making and can extend weaker members of a group too far past their skill levels.

4. Get home-itus: Forgetting to monitor risk once the end is in sight. Many incidnets have occured when people do dangerous things just trying to get home for dinner. Be alert to the end.

5. Attribution Theory: We tend to blame our mistakes on external things (others, gear etc) and take the credit for good things. In an incident separate blame from responsibility and reduce further risk.

6. Risk Homeostasis: Have personal locator beacon (PLB), will travel. With safety gear in hand many people take extra risks. These precautions should be a backup not a licence to roam. What would happen if they failed?

Know your limits

Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Below are the Department of Conservation's track ratings. What's your level of challenge?

icon-Easy-access Easy Short Walk Access
These tracks are accessible to people of all abilities.
icon-Short-walk Short Walk
Easy walking for up to an hour on a well formed tack that is well formed with an even surface with possible steps or slopes. Suitable for people of most abilities and fitness. Stream and rivers crossings are bridged. Walking shoes required.
icon-Walking-track Walking Track
Easy to moderate walking from a few minutes to a day on a well formed track, some sections may be steep, rough or muddy. Clearly sign posted and all Stream and river crossings are bridged. Suitable for people with low to moderate fitness and abilities Walking shoes or light tramping/hiking boots required.
icon-Easy-tramping Great walks/Easy Tramping
Track is generally well formed, may be steep, rough or muddy, suitable for people with moderate fitness. Limited backcountry (remote areas) experience required. Track has signs, poles or markers. Major stream and rivers crossings are bridged. Light tramping/hiking boots required.
icon-Tramping Tramping
Challenging day or multi-day tramping/hiking on a track that is mostly unformed with steep, rough or muddy sections. Suitable for people with good fitness. Moderate to high level backcountry skills and experience, including navigation and survival skills required. Tracks have markers, poles or rock cairns. Expect unbridged stream and river crossings. Tramping/hiking boots required.
icon-route Route Tracks
Challenging day or multi-day tramping/hiking on a unformed and natural track, rough, muddy or very steep. Suitable for people with above average fitness with High level backcountry skills and experience, including navigation and survival skills required. Complete self sufficiency is required. Track has markers, poles or rock cairns. Expect unbridged stream and river crossings. Sturdy tramping/hiking boots required
  Material on this page has been taken from Outdoor Safety: Risk management for outdoor leaders, Haddock, C (2013)

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