Mountain Safety Advice

Weather

Be prepared, by getting a reliable local weather forecast before you set off.

http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/weatherline, the National Park Weather Service for felltop conditions, temperatures, cloudbase, etc. Plan a route that is suitable for the forecasted weather (but expect it to be worse) and suitable for the weakest member of your party, and tell someone responsible what that route is. Make sure you have a map covering your route and a compass. Know how to use both. www.mwis.org.uk is also a very good site, were a forecaster actually looks out of a window as well as using the science. Beware of websites that rely just on computer modelling!!

Do you know about windchill? At a given air temperature, wind speed reduces the temperature experienced by the body by an amazing amount. More information, including a wind chill calculator at http://www.csgnetwork.com/windchillcalc.html

First aid

Learn some first aid, and take a first aid kit with you. And get your friends to do the same. They're the person who's going to sort you out!

Clothing

Take appropriate clothing including waterproofs, spare warm clothes, hat and gloves, a torch, enough food and drink for the planned trip plus a bit extra for the unplanned part. Take torch, a survival bag (if you don't have one or know what one is get down to you local outdoor shop now - they cost next to nothing and may save your life).

Technology

Try to avoid relying on communications or position finding technology. It's all very well until you drop it, its batteries fail, or some bug or otherwise eats its insides. Or it becomes too dark to see it and you forgot your torch!

If it all goes wrong

If it all goes wrong, don't panic. Don't immediately get out your mobile phone and dial 999 (or your Mum, 'cos she'll dial 999 for you...it's happened!), unless it's a medical emergency. Think; Are we really lost? If we continue this way and end up in the wrong place, is it the end of the world? Can we get ourselves out of this? All the best mountaineers have got themselves out of mires so deep their feet wouldn't have been touching the bottom. Read their books! Joe Simpson, Doug Scott, Simon Yates, and many others. They all gained from the experience of sorting themselves out.

If you do find yourself in need of mountain rescue anywhere in the UK

Send someone (or two if there are enough in your party to leave one behind with the casualty) to the nearest phone call 999 or 112, ask for the police and say you need mountain rescue. Or use a mobile phone, if you have a signal. Your phone may roam to another network to allow you to make a 999 call, but nobody will be able to phone you back. That is why it is important to have the following information available:

Be prepared to tell them:

  • your name and address.
  • the number of the telephone that you are ringing from, and any mobile phones in your party.
  • why you need help.
  • how many people are in your party.
  • how many people are injured and what are their injuries.
  • where you are (preferably using a grid reference).
  • the weather at the incident site.
  • what survival equipment you have between you.
  • the registration of the vehicle you travelled in and where it is parked.

Once you have requested help follow exactly any instructions given to you. If told to stay where you are you must do so. If you move you risk losing any mobile phone signal and impeding any rescue team coming to help you.  The Mountain Rescue Team will want to call you back. You will probably be asked to wait where you are while someone comes to speak to you, although don't expect ambulances and flashing lights to necessarily come your way, you may not have come down the quickest or easiest way.

The whole process can take several hours, or more. Please don't expect a helicopter to whizz in and carry out a brief job. This is rare, and it is much more likely to be done on foot.

Lightning Strikes

Summary –Staying safe

  • Stay off ridges & summits, and away from single trees.
  • Walls can be protective but keep more than 1m away.
  • All metal objects (karabiners, crampons, ice-axe, ski poles, etc) should be stored safely.
  • Move quickly away from wire ropes & iron ladders.
  • Lightning currents can travel along wet ropes.
  • Crouch immediately if there is a sensation of hair “standing on end”.
  • Crackling noises or a visible glow indicate imminent lightning strike.
  • Airborne helicopters can be struck.

Prevention of problems

  • Check weather forecast.
  • Seek shelter as soon as hear thunder. Don’t wait until you see the lightning.
  • Lightning can travel 10 miles in front of storm clouds. 10% strikes occur when blue sky is visible.
  • A storm can travel at 25 mph.
  • Most common time for injuries are before the storm or at the apparent end of the storm.
  • 30-30 rule
  • Danger of being struck is when flash to thunder time less than 30 seconds (approximately 10 km away).
  • Don’t climb for 30 minutes after last thunder & seeing last lightning.

NO PLACE OUTSIDE IS SAFE DURING LIGHTNING –AVOID THESE:

  • Small, open huts, caves & overhangs (increase risk from side flashes).
  • Sheltering under small outcrop or overhang may increase risk of injury, as lightning that has hit a hill literally “drips” onto the person with the rain as it arcs over the ground.
  • Water or wet stream beds.
  • Near the tallest structure in the area e.g. single tree.
  • Tents not protective (metal tent poles act as lightning rods).
  • Stay away from high ground (ridges and summits).
  • Power lines
  • Ski lifts
  • Metal objects

 

Further advice, particularly relevant to winter is available by clicking here.