It was a stormy night in Val Bavona in Ticino. It had been raining for hours, and the ground was soaked and slippery. When Alberto Corti, hut keeper at Capanna Piano delle Creste, heard a knocking at the door in the middle of the night, he was not surprised: a hiker, completely drenched who’d lost his original way and come across the hut, with no more than his mobile phone as a source of light.
The hiker was extremely lucky. According to statistics from the Swiss Alpine Club SAC, over 2,700 people in the Swiss Alps and Jura found themselves in distress in 2017 and had to be rescued or recovered by mountain rescue services. In traditional mountain sports, 103 people were involved in fatal accidents, with falls or plunges being the most common cause of death.
What you need to note to hike safely
Careful planning before a hike is key to staying safe. The following aspects should be considered:
- How challenging is the hike?
Accurate self-assessment helps prevent hikers running into danger. Signposts on hiking trails also provide additional help and show the difficulty level of the routes.
- What are the current conditions?
The weather can change faster in the mountains than in the lowlands. Follow the weather’s progress closely.
- What kind of equipment do I need?
Besides the right clothing, (wind, cold and rain protection), you will also need provisions and drinks. Sun protection as well as a small first-aid kit, maps and a headlamp can also be packed, as required.
- How much time will I need?
Plan enough time for your hike. If you're hiking alone, inform friends or acquaintances about your route and schedule.
Prepare for emergencies
Safety first when hiking. However, should you still find yourself in an emergency situation, it's important to keep calm. Assess the situation, provide first aid if necessary and call Rega on 1414.
By the way: did you know that, with your Medical Costs Insurance for Accidents, CSS also offers you a semi-private/private ward, free choice of doctor and hospital, as well as a contribution towards search and rescue operations? The monthly premium for adults is just CHF 7.50.