The Warren Foundation has today officially launched an outdoor safety initiative set to sensitize the public on safety when undertaking outdoor activities.
The Foundation was formed following the tragic death of 14-year-old Warren Asiyo during a climbing expedition at Mt. Kenya.
His demise was attributed to undetected High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) which are both advanced forms of acute mountain sickness (AMS) that occurs due to poor acclimatization in high altitude areas and can be fatal within hours.
The Foundation is at the forefront of creating awareness on the hidden safety challenges & dangers of outdoor activities through providing and promoting training and certification of guides.
It is also keen on improving emergency preparedness at the mountain; ensuring there are constant communication and proper evacuation measures.
Speaking at the launch, the Foundation’s Chairman Richard Kiplagat said that Outdoor activities are fun and the adrenaline rush gained from them is what gives most enthusiasts the drive to push harder.
However, safety in some of the outdoor activities is overlooked especially in mountain climbing where most people assume that the guides are well trained and certified by recognized institutions.
“We believe that, had the mountain guides been better equipped with basic knowledge of AMS they would have recognized the symptoms related to the onset of HAPE and HACE. This lack of awareness limited Warren’s chances of survival. No one should lose their life in such tragic circumstances hence our goal to advocate for safe, adventurous, fun and enriching outdoor activities in Kenya”, added Mr. Kiplagat.
Since its formation, the Foundation has made great strides. So far, the Foundation has tabled a bill in parliament under the parliamentary environmental committee that will uphold safety standards in the outdoors.
They have also rolled out several school engagements and pushed for the installation of GSM antenna at the foot of Mt. Kenya which has enhanced communication on the mountain and facilitated easy reach in case of emergency.
As a result, there has been a reduction in the number of accidents and incidents at Mt. Kenya with no deaths have been reported since mid-2016.
However, a lot still needs to be done to completely bridge the gap in outdoor safety in Kenya as compared to other countries such Tanzania, who have managed to uphold reputable standards in the outdoors.
“We would also encourage the public that may be interested in mountain climbing to train before they do so preferably in high altitude terrains. AMS is easily managed if detected early and starts with mild symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite and nausea. The best cure is to descend and go to lower attitudes in order to get adequate oxygen supply,” said Alnavaz Amlani, an outdoor expert.
The Foundation is setting up a center for outdoor activity excellence in Naromoro town that will be used for training and certifying of mountain guides and team building activities.
To achieve its transformative goal, the foundation is keen on forming partnerships with key industry stakeholders who include Kenya Wildlife Service, Safaricom Kenya, Communications Authority of Kenya, and Parliament of Kenya.
Others are insurance providers, all hospitals, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, expedition companies, schools, and churches.
About the Warren Foundation
The Warren Foundation is a self-sponsored community organization that is focused on making outdoors in Kenya safe adventurous, fun and enriching.
In December 2015, 14-year-old Warren Asiyo joined a group of young teenage students from various schools in Nairobi to a hike at Mount Kenya as part of a church organized Rites of Passage (ROPES) program.
Poor planning, lack of safety/emergency equipment and inexperienced mountain guides led to his unfortunate demise.
He succumbed to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) which are both advanced forms of acute mountain sickness (AMS) that occurs due to poor acclimatization in high altitude areas.
The death of Warren left a gap in the hearts of his family and friends, who then took it upon themselves to start The Warren Foundation (TWF) with the aim of transforming the casual way outdoor activities are carried out in Kenya.
About altitude sickness
Altitude sickness has three forms. Mild altitude sickness is called acute mountain sickness (AMS) and is quite similar to a hangover – it causes a headache, nausea, and fatigue. This is very common: some people are only slightly affected, others feel awful.
However, if you have AMS, you should take this as a warning sign that you are at risk of the serious forms of altitude sickness: HAPE and HACE. Both HAPE and HACE can be fatal within hours.
High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE)
HAPE is a dangerous build-up of fluid in the lungs that prevents the air spaces from opening up and filling with fresh air with each breath.
When this happens, the sufferer becomes progressively more short of oxygen, which in turn worsens the build-up of fluid in the lungs. In this way, HAPE can be fatal within hours.
High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE)
HACE is fluid on the brain. It causes confusion, clumsiness, and stumbling. The first signs may be uncharacteristic behavior such as laziness, excessive emotion or violence. Drowsiness and loss of consciousness occur shortly before death.