Media Release: Don’t let the wild weather catch you on the hop this Easter.
Easter weekend is often seen as the last long-weekend opportunity to explore the outdoors before winter weather sets in. In light of Cyclone Cook campers, day walkers and backcountry trampers are urged to very carefully check the weather forecast — in particular the weather warnings — prior to going out this long weekend.
Mountain Safety Council (MSC) chief executive Mike Daisley referenced the councils 2016 research report ‘There and Back, An exploration of outdoor recreation incidents in New Zealand’ that has some concerning statistics for the long weekend.
“Easter weekend is the largest of all the public holidays with respect to injury and people involved in a search and rescue. There are an average of 41 injuries and 4.5 people involved in a search and rescue per day,” said Daisley.
“With respect to Tramping over Easter, there is an average of 26 injuries and 2 people involved in a search in rescue. This is over three times the average for injuries, and double the average for searches,” said Daisley.
“51% of Tramping injuries, and 49% of searches occur in the first four months of the year,” he concluded.
Daisley is keen to remind anyone adventuring into the outdoors this weekend to prepare for significant changes in the weather.
“Easter is not a time to scrimp on your preparation or equipment, especially with the weather at the moment” said Daisley.
“The basic premise is to prepare for the worst winter conditions you can think of, and hope for the best that autumn can bring. New Zealand is a country that sees big changes in weather conditions, and some can be very localised,” said Daisley.
MetService communications meteorologist Lisa Murray reiterates the advice to check the forecast carefully for your region.
“This Easter weekend starts with Cyclone Cook crossing the country, making landfall around Thursday 7pm in the Coromandel Peninsula to western Bay of Plenty region. Cook then tracks south and is expected to pass east of the Kaikoura Coast around 6am Friday before continuing south along the east coast of the South Island,” said Murray
‘This is a fast-moving system so the most severe weather will have moved off the North Island by lunch time Friday and the South Island by Saturday morning. After Cyclone Cook passes, areas in the east will fine up, while areas in the west can expect some cloud and showers,” she added
MetService advises those planning outdoor activities during the Severe Weather Warning time periods should consider postponing until Cyclone Cook has past.
“When heading up into the ranges it is wise to not only check the urban forecasts but also use the ‘rural’ forecasts as the give a longer, more detailed forecast and then finally the mountain forecasts to get a specific forecast for the ranges,” said Murray
“You can find the latest information on the severe weather warnings and forecasts for Easter weekend, online at metservice.com, or on your mobile visit m.metservice.com. Updates will also be available via MetService’s Facebook page,” she concluded
Daisley says that the Outdoor Safety Code — a five step planning tool available on the MSC website — is the key to being correctly prepared for all conditions.
“We urge all those going for a day walk to make themselves familiar with the outdoor safety code, and importantly, tell someone your plans so you can be more easily found if the unforeseen happens,” said Daisley.
“If you’ve followed the outdoor safety code you’ll be in a better position to survive the night if something does happen, but in most cases ‘unexpected nights out’ are completely avoidable”
“Remember, if nobody knows you’re out there nobody knows to come and look for you if you’re not back in time,” said Daisley.
“Some people do not consider a ‘Day Walk’ worthy of telling someone their plans, or indeed planning at all. The trouble with a Day Walk is often that their accessibility and the short distances involved suggest there is a very low risk, when in actual fact there can be significantly higher risks than may be initially perceived.”
“If you do get lost, injured or caught out for whatever reason you’re chances of survival are dramatically increased if you’ve followed the outdoor safety code,” he concluded.
LandSAR chief executive Steve Caldwell says that their volunteers are preparing for an historically busy weekend.
“It’s imperative that people follow the outdoor safety code. Take sufficient supplies and equipment to deal with the worst you can imagine because Easter often throws up a big change,” said Caldwell.
“Make sure you tell someone where you’re going so if it all goes wrong for whatever reason we’ve got a chance of finding you. You don’t want to be a needle in a haystack in the New Zealand outdoors in foul weather,” he concluded.
Water Safety NZ Chief Executive Jonty Mills backs the warnings from MSC, particularly in relation to rivers.
“Around a third of all preventable drownings over the last couple of years have occurred in rivers,” Mills said.
“The unseasonal weather bombs we’ve seen this year has seen rivers at their highest levels for many years. The Easter weekend looks like more of the same in many parts of the country so people need to take extra caution and if in doubt, stay out,” he added.
For more information about the outdoor safety code and resources to help you stay safe this Easter head to www.mountainsafety.org.nz
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