The following points cover the minimum precautions you should take if you want to avoid getting hurt, lost or in the event of an accident, minimise further harm.
- Planning and Preparation
- Plan before setting out!
- Consider the equipment, experience, capabilities and enthusiasm of the party members. Check the weather forecast and local conditions; Mountains can be major undertakings. Night falls early in the winter and the further north you go!
- Learn first aid.
- Many accidents occur towards the latter part of the day when both your energy levels and those of your phone battery will be run down. Did you remember to charge your battery before setting out?
Clothing and Footwear
Wear suitable boots with a treaded sole which provide support for ankles.
It is advised that clothing should be colourful, warm, windproof and waterproof.
Take spare warm clothing, a hat and gloves; it is always colder on the top of Mountains.
Food and Drink
Food – In addition to the usual sandwiches take chocolate, dates, or similar sweet things, which restore energy quickly. You may not need them yourself, but someone else may. Drink – In warm conditions dehydration can be a real problem, your body uses more water climbing than walking on level ground. Take plenty to drink, as you become more experienced you will become better able to judge the amount of fluid your body requires under different conditions.
‘Isotonic’ sports drinks consist of a good balance of salts, and carbohydrates, necessary to replace the sugars, salts and mineral lost through perspiration. This may also reduce the occurrence of muscle cramps.
Streams on hills are drinkable if fast-running over stony beds.
Equipment and its Use
A map, compass (and the ability to use them), and at least one reliable watch in the party should always be carried.
In all conditions, it is wise to carry a whistle, torch, spare batteries and bulbs; but in winter conditions, an ice-axe and survival bag are essential.
Climbers and mountain bikers are all urged to wear helmets at all times.
If in groups, make sure party leaders are experienced; do not let the party become separated. Take special care of the youngest and weakest in dangerous places. If you prefer to go alone, be aware of the additional risk.
Be prepared to turn back if conditions are against you; even if this upsets your plan. If you have a serious problem, get a message to the Police (999) for help as soon as possible and keep injured/exhausted people safe and warm until help reaches you. If you cannot contact anyone, use six whistle blasts or torch flashes, repeated at minute intervals, to signal an emergency. Report changes of route or timetable to someone who is expecting you.
Do not rely on a mobile phone to get you out of trouble. Signal coverage in mountainous areas is very unreliable. Mountain Rescue has many years of experience in calls from mobile telephones and, whilst they are excellent when they work, there are many things that can go wrong. Even moving a few feet in the mountains can mean losing the signal. You will be advised of best practice when contacted. If you are able to summon help using your mobile phone KEEP IT SWITCHED ON SO YOU CAN BE RE-CONTACTED.
Check the weather forecast before you set out and be prepared to change or abandon plans if the weather is unsuitable.
Dangers – all can be avoided
* Slopes of ice or steep snow
* Very steep grass slopes, especially if frozen or wet
* Unstable boulders
* Gullies, gorges and stream beds
* Streams in spate
* Snow cornices on ridges or gully tops
* Exceeding your experience and abilities
* Loss of concentration, especially toward the end of a long day
Dangers – require constant monitoring
* Weather changes – these can be sudden and more extreme than forecast
* Ice on path (carry an ice-axe and crampons – and know how to use them)
* Excessive cold or heat (dress appropriately)
* Incipient exhaustion (know the signs; rest and keep warm)
* Accident or illness (don’t panic – if you send for help, make sure you stay put and the rescuers know exactly where to come)
* Passage of Time – especially true when under pressure – allow extra time in winter conditions
It is no disgrace to turn back if you are not certain. A party must be governed by the capabilities of the weakest member. To support Mountain Rescue log on to: http://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/
Article courtesy of Keela.co.uk