Safety on The Hills

To call out  Mountain Rescue:

Dial ‘999’  ask for the Police, when connected ask for ‘Mountain Rescue’

Information to those using the Hills: British mountains & hills can be killers if proper care is not taken. The following notes cover the minimum precautions if you want to avoid getting hurt or lost, and so inconveniencing or endangering others as well as yourselves.

Clothing: This should be colourful, warm, windproof and waterproof. Wear suitable boots with a treaded sole, not shoes or trainers. Take spare warm clothing and perhaps a hat and gloves; it is always colder on the tops.

Food: In addition to the usual sandwiches, take chocolate, dates, mintcake or similar sweet things which restore energy quickly. If you don’t need them yourself, someone else may.

Becks on fells are drinkable if fast-running over stony beds.

Equipment: This must include map, compass, and at least one reliable watch in the party. A whistle, torch and spare batteries and bulbs (six blasts or flashes repeated at minute intervals signal an emergency), and. in winter conditions, an ice-axe and survival bag are essential. Climbers are all urged to wear helmets, especially in winter conditions.

Company: If in groups, make sure party leaders are experienced; do not leave one or two behind to rest and catch up later. Take special care of the youngest and weakest in dangerous places. If you prefer to go alone, be very careful at all times. Let people know your route at start, and stick to it as far as you can.

Emergencies: Don’t press on if conditions are against you -turn back even if it upsets your plan. Learn first aid, and keep injured or exhausted people warm until help reaches you. Get a message to the Police for help as soon as possible, and report changes of route or time-table to them if someone is expecting you. The Police will do the rest.

Mobile Phones: Do not rely on a mobile phone to get you out of trouble. It will be by more luck than anything else that you will receive a signal at all. Mountain Rescue now 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. Many accidents occur towards the latter part of the day when the phone battery will be run down and many times we have experienced the battery running flat during a rescue. Did you remember to charge your battery before going on your last walk?

Dangers which can always be avoided – all should be until you know how to cope with them:

Precipices, Slopes of ice or steep snow, Very steep grass (especially frozen)

Unstable boulders, Gullies and stream beds, Streams in spate, Snow cornices on ridges or gully tops, Over-ambition, Plain carelessness

Dangers which may surprise you and should be guarded against:

Weather changes – mist, gale, rain or snow
(get forecasts, and watch the sky in all quarters)

Ice on path
(carry an ice-axe and crampons – and know how to use them)

Excessive cold or heat
(dress sensibly, and take  spare layers)

Incipient exhaustion
(know the signs; rest and keep warm)

Accident or illness
(don’t panic – if you send for help, make sure that the rescuers know exactly where to come)

Flight of time
(learn your own pace – plan your walk – allow double 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.