Fishing, Hiking, Outdoor

Father’s Day with Columbia

For Father’s Day – 19th of June, Columbia SA reached out to three outdoor enthusiastic dads and we asked them to answer questions and share tips regarding safety in the outdoors. These Dads come from different backgrounds but share the same love for the outdoors as they do for their kids. 

Brandon Danks @lets_get_lost_za_

A dad who was very active in responding to the KZN flood victims. Brandon had a few tips to share with us regarding how to stay safe during floods.

1) How do you stay safe during a flood?

Staying safe during a flood starts before the flood. Picking safe, secure areas to set up camp/build shelters on is vital, understanding how fast and how high water can rise in a flash flood is important, look around for clues from previous floods. This is not always possible as seen in the recent KZN floods, water levels reached heights last seen during Demonia. If you find yourself stuck in the middle of a flood immediately seek refuge on high ground. Be aware that staying in a vehicle does not make you safe in a flood, it takes less than 500mm of water to make the average car float. Have a go-bag packed and ready to “go” at all times, pay attention to weather forecasts and always play it safe when outdoors.

2) How can you get out of your water-logged car during a flood?

Ideally, you should have a window breaker attached to your sun visor, these are readily available online, which you can use to safely break the window and then extricate yourself. However the majority of people are not that prepared so if your vehicle has detachable headrests, you can use one of them as an impact tool to break the window, door windows break much easier than windscreens, although it will still take a fair amount of effort to break the glass with a headrest. Other solid objects like fire extinguishers, torches, and wheel spanners can be very effective provided you keep them inside the vehicle. Keep a pair of general work gloves in your vehicle at all times, so should the need arise you can protect your hands during the window smashing.

3) How did you stay safe when trying to rescue flood victims?

I did my best to maintain a high level of situational awareness during each rescue. I live a generally highly prepared lifestyle due to the nature of my hobbies which keep me far off the beaten track. Having the right tools for the job goes a long way in maintaining personal safety as well, keeping dry was a challenge, and having a good jacket was imperative. I changed shoes and gloves about 6 times in 48 hours during the KZN floods. Again a well-planned “Go Bag” was a massive help in keeping me safe. Constant communication with my friends also was vital, I would send out multiple location beacons and live location pins during my volunteer work during the flooding, this way should I have become stranded my friends would know where to come looking. This was only possible due to us still having cellular service.

4) What is your favourite outdoor memory with your little one?

To choose one specific memory will be tough as we spend a tremendous amount of time outdoors together. However one of my happiest memories is from Sodwana in KZN, we hiked down through a section of dense coastal forest to a totally deserted beach and spent a few hours in absolute paradise, completely alone.

Chris Vaughan-Jones @chriscvj 

A dad who enjoys spending time at sea, fishing, and surfing. Chris shared insights on how to fish sustainably as well as stay safe while fishing alone at sea.

1) How do you recommend staying safe while fishing alone at sea?

Know your ability, equipment, and the natural conditions that are always changing. The wind, the currents, the tide, the time the sun will set, how far out you are, how long will it take to get home. Make it a habit of knowing what the weather report says at least two days ahead so you can anticipate any sudden weather changes. Make sure you let at least one person know you are going out to sea and get them to call you in the evening to make sure you are home. Make sure your equipment is in good repair. If you look after your equipment, it will look after you. Have a plan B for if something goes wrong, failure to plan is to plan for failure. Know your limits, whether it’s how deep you can free dive while spearfishing (never free dive/ spearfish alone) or how rough the ocean is for launching the boat. Stick within your ability.

2) What tips do you have to fish sustainably?

Having worked for the Save Our Seas Foundation as a researcher and underwater photographer this is a great question… know your local laws, what can and can’t you catch? Where can and can’t you fish, and what methods you can use. Know what fish species are common in the area and what you should put back. Even if ordering fish, know what fish is sustainable. Get the SASSI app, it allows you to check the sustainability of your seafood. I only need 1 small 5kg Yellow Fin or a Dorado or a Cuta and that will feed me and my family for a week. Filling the boat full of fish is purely for bragging rights. Catch what you can eat without freezing or rather leave the fish in the sea to stay fresh for next time.

3) How do you keep your little one safe by the water?

My daughter is now 2 and she loves the water, she isn’t swimming by herself yet so this is a huge factor for us as my wife and I are water babies and are always near water. Firstly you have to be present if there is water you can’t let your little one out of your sight. You cannot get distracted. If there are other adults around, you can’t assume they are watching your little one if you need to do something else (like change our 5-month-old son), you have to verbally tell the other person, “I’m leaving you in charge. I’m doing such and such for the next two minutes.” We have instilled a healthy respect for the ocean and all bodies of water into our daughter. She loves the ocean and swimming but she knows her limits and that when on her own, she can quickly get out of her depth, whether it’s letting them fall in the pool under your supervision and quickly pulling them out or letting a wave wash them over it may be a lifesaving lesson.

4) What is your favourite outdoor memory with your little one?

My favourite outdoor memories with my daughter are our hikes (she has done Table Mountain twice already) and definitely family trips to the beach. Tying into the last question, we have a little life jacket that we put onto Grace when I take her surfing and body boarding. One of my fondest memories is paddling out to the back line with her (she had just turned 2) on a longboard on a sunny day and catching a wave back to the beach, then having her say, through chattering teeth and a shivering chin, “more please Daddy.”

Stephen Mogapi @stevoski_4x4_africa 

A dad who enjoys outdoor adventures and camping life. Stephen shared some tips with us about camping essentials and survival tips.

1) What are your top camping survival tips?

Research about the place you visit, learn about things to do, if it’s safe at night, and look for camping spots that have good ablutions to be able to clean up and have a warm shower after a sweaty day in the bush. Carry a flashlight with sufficient lighting for night walks around the campsite, and have area lighting for cooking and inside the tent. Pack warm clothing, a good sleeping bag for those chilly nights under the skies, and wear closed shoes, especially at night. Carry a first aid kit for those unfortunate moments. Carry a camera to catch all those unforgettable moments where you explore by yourself or with your little ones.

2) What are your top camping survival tips?

My camping gear is generally attached to the vehicle, things I think about as essential are: I carry 60l of water for general purpose use in the vehicle. I carry clothes for both cold and warm weather unless I visit a warm climate, being appropriately dressed for the outdoors while looking good is something I take time to think about… My fridge has become essential as it makes my food and drink choices not too removed from what I am accustomed to. Lastly, a vehicle recovery gear in case I get stuck while exploring.

3) Survival tips for when wildlife visit your tent/campsite?

I recommend having sufficient lighting as this can make a big difference at night in case a wildlife visitor may find a cosy spot at your campsite. Have the basic knowledge and courage to handle wildlife, and read about the handling of poisonous and dangerous wildlife. Know where to find help from fellow campers or camp caretakers.

4) What is your favourite outdoor memory with your little one?

My favourite memories are always when we go to the beach with the little ones, visiting water bodies is their happiest moment, I try to get campsites close to the river or beach so they can play till their hearts are full of adventure and get to sleep peacefully into the night around the campfire.

We hope you learned some insightful tips and tricks from our Columbia Dads.

Happy father’s Day from Columbia!