Summit Safety

Yes, Mother Nature is beautiful. Yet it also hosts dangers such as difficult terrain, rapidly changing environmental conditions, and potentially dangerous encounters with animals. Recognizing potential hazards and how to respond to them will help you enjoy your Summit experience. Below are a few potential situations that could occur in the New River Gorge area during the summer months.


Falling can result in sprains, strains, and/or broken bones. Please watch your step!

What to Do

  1. No matter the area of injury, sit down and assess. Is the area tender or painful?
  2. If it is an ankle or knee injury, can the injured scout stand and bear weight?
  3. Think RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate.
  4. If the injury is more severe than a slight sprain, splints and trained medical evacuation may be needed.

Heat Illness

While spending the day climbing and rappelling under the sun, a climber says he feels faint and needs to sit down. He complains of a headache, nausea, and has not had much to eat or drink throughout the day.

What to Do

There are different types of heat illness and they are generally labeled as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. No matter the designation, the following steps will help the victim.

  1. Stop physical exertion.
  2. Move him into a cool shaded area and have him sit or lie down with legs elevated. Fanning the person is helpful.
  3. Remove or loosen restrictive clothing.
  4. If possible, have him drink water and eat.
  5. Place a wet cloth across the neck, or wet his t-shirt, face, or body.
  6. If the person becomes confused or loses consciousness, stops sweating, or has an increase in respirations and heart rate – seek medical attention.

Always take signs of heat illness seriously. Heat stroke, the worst case of heat illness, is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical assistance. In order to beat the heat, remind yourself and your buddies to stay hydrated and eat food.

Near Drowning

If you are swimming or boating on a lake and you see someone splashing and yelling for help and then go under, you and your friends are able to save him with the following steps after pulling him to shore.

What to Do

  1. If he/she is not breathing, mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing is the only treatment that will help. Be prepard to conduct CPR if no pulse is present.
  2. Be prepared for the victim to vomit during rescue breathing; roll him to the side when this occurs and sweep any vomit from his mouth before restarting rescue breathing.
  3. If your friend is breathing, position him comfortably and help as needed.
  4. If the event occurs in swift moving water or after jumping from a height, rescuers must assume that the person may have injured their spine and take adequate precautions to protect them.


There are only two venomous snakes that reside in the New River Gorge region. They are the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). These snakes are most active between April and October. Neither of these species are particularly agressive and will retreat if given a chance. The best advice is to stay away from all snakes.

What to Do

It is best to maintain awareness while in the wilderness in order to avoid a snakebite. However, if it is unavoidable, the following steps will help to provide care until you reach medical personnel.

  1. Keep the victim calm.
  2. Clean the area with water to remove any remaining venom.
  3. Keep the bitten area below the level of the heart and immobilize it if possible.
  4. Remove any jewelry or restrictive clothing.
  5. Transport to a local medical point.

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