How to stay safe when enjoying the outdoors
Spending time in the great outdoors has a huge variety of benefits, helping everything from raising your mood and improving your mental health to boosting your physical health, energy and stamina.
While the natural world is wonderful to explore, whether you love walking, cycling, climbing or anything else, it also comes with unique safety hazards and risks. Here are some simple ways to ensure you’re always as safe as possible.
Know what to do in an emergency
While we may be used to having most services at the touch of a button in our cities and towns, heading out into the countryside can often be a different story, with areas where we may have no phone reception or lack convenient charging points to top up a flagging battery.
So it’s a good idea to find out before you go about mountain safety services that are available in the area you plan to visit.
The last thing you want is an ambulance negligence claim to spoil your trip, and more remote regions might have specific emergency protocols. Some areas may be very difficult to access, so you might see information about hazards or risks on the day.
Check the weather forecast
There are plenty of services offering weather updates and information, such as avalanche risk. See MWIS, Met Office’s Mountain Weather Forecast and the Scottish avalanche information service, SAIS, among others.
Dress appropriately – and pack emergency items
One of the biggest hazards most people face when getting outside doesn’t come from other people or even the terrain. In fact, the weather is one of the main reasons people encounter difficulties in the outdoors, especially in areas where the climate can be quite changeable.
Even if you have checked the weather, it can suddenly change and the weather at sea level is likely to be very different from higher altitudes.
Wear layers to keep you warm and dry and carry spares, especially waterproof shells and an insulated jacket of some kind. If you’re heading out with kids, make sure they’re dressed practically and safely.
As well as having the right clothing, make sure that you’ve also got appropriate footwear for the terrain and climate, and any other additional tools you may need.
You should ensure you have plenty of food and drink, too.
Carry navigation tools
If you’re heading out for a long walk or hike in an area where you’re unlikely to be around many other people, then it’s essential to be able to navigate the area confidently and safely.
Don’t rely on digital tools only to get you around. Aside from the possibility of lacking reception to check online maps, potential power or technical faults could easily leave you at a loss.
A paper map and a compass are vital and you should should also know how to use them. It can be helpful to familiarise yourself with the area before going.