Unaccustomed mustn't ignore perils of trekking

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PUNE: Trekking in groups, accommodating guides well-versed with the routes, wearing proper footwear, avoiding deep streams are some safety measures professional trekking clubs follow and they have advised others to do this on monsoon treks to avoid any mishaps.
They have also recommended that tourists should not wade under waterfalls because the water's force and slippery rocks may carry one away. A strong swimmer in the group is an added advantage.
In this season of monsoon treks, many inexperienced trekkers attempt to walk around waterfalls, which without caution, can be fatal.
On Sunday, 11-year-old Sakshi Pawar from Pune was feared drowned in the gushing waters of Thoseghar waterfalls in Satara. According to statistics provided by the Satara taluka police, she was the ninth victim at this waterfall, in the recent past.
In another incident, Rixon D'souza, a 24-year-old fashion designer from Thane, was also feared drowned in the waters of Tungarli dam near Lonavla, while swimming in its waters.
Professional trekkers say these incidents dampen the trekking experience, and precautions are needed before inexperienced trekkers take off on dangerous terrains.
Sridhar Shelar, president of the city-based Sahyadri Adventure Treks, said, "People do not anticipate the dangers involved at trekking sites during the monsoon. They do not equip themselves with basic safety equipment like a rope, or even proper trekking shoes. Such ignorance leads to unfortunate incidents."
Professional trekker Ketan Rikame said, "Revellers go overboard and fatal accidents happen. Sign boards warning of danger at these sites are ignored and people step into fast-flowing water without knowing its dangers. The mere excitement proves fatal."
Rikame suggested that trekkers travel in a group and accommodate a guide who knows the route thoroughly along with the depth and flow of water.
According to Him Adventure International Tour, a trekking club in the city, knowing the flow of water, its pressure and persons capable of handling water accidents is a must especially at waterfalls.
Sammy Gill, a mountaineering trainer at the club, said, "Carrying technical equipment such as a rope, a carabiner (a metal loop) and a harness will also be advantageous. The leader must be capable of handling situations. Revellers must not cross heavy flowing water, where maximum accidents take place."
Vikas Kaduskar, joint secretary of the Safe Climbing Initiative (SCI), an initiative for climbing safety, said, safety must be a priority and accidents have increased due to the lack of safety awareness among trekkers.
Kaduskar said a first-aid kit is important. "Undertake some research about the trekking group you go along with, and take valuable inputs from seasoned trekkers who have already been there. Inputs in terms of how accessible is the place, if help is available in case of an emergency, distance to the nearest police station or hospital and whether there are wild animals in the area are a must," he added.
SCI spreads awareness apart from replacing old anchors on climbing routes with new ones.
Safety first:
- Trek with people who know the place or carry a detailed map
- Wear proper footwear so that you don't slip on rock faces which can get slippery during the monsoon.
- Deep stream crossing must be undertaken only if one is very sure. They may be deeper and the current may pull you down.
- Do not eat leaves, fruits, flowers, or mushrooms. They could be poisonous.
- Stick together and do not leave anyone behind
- Avoid carrying valuables such as rings, chains and too much money
- Diseases are rampant during the monsoon. Guard against influenza, dysentery, malaria and dengue. Always carry a medical kit with some antibiotics. Do not neglect early symptoms of sickness and consult a doctor.
- Contaminated food and water are a monsoon pitfall. Eat properly cooked food, and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
- If you have spent the day in pouring rain, take a hot water bath
- Go with a big group of at least 10-12 people.