Being Safe and Sound When Outdoors in the Countryside
6. ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR AN EMERGENCY:
Obviously most outdoor adventures pass without issue or incident. But the safest thing to do is to prepare for any eventuality. Whether it is happening to you or to someone else – what can you do to prepare for an emergency?
- The first thing you can do is download the What3Words app to your phone. This app contains information for every 3m square of the world - and each can be identified with a unique 3-word combination. This will allow you to share your exact location should you get into trouble.
- You can also carry a key ring with emergency contact details, add this emergency contact to your phone and register for the emergencySMS service – this allows you to send a text to 999.
- In any high-level emergency always dial 999.
7. ALWAYS CARRY A CHARGER:
As discussed above, a well-charged mobile phone is a necessity in case of emergency. It is also useful for general communication and if you have a smartphone – a connection to the internet – including apps, maps and access to local information.
A battery-powered or solar-powered charger is best for when you have limited access to a power point.
It is prudent to invest in a decent backpack. This will keep your kit well-organised and most importantly dry. Do your research and chose the best one that is comfortable to wear and you are able to carry (filled with your kit) over long distances.
What should I keep in my backpack?
- Mobile phone and charger
- Warm layers: Don’t underestimate the discomfort and potential danger of becoming too cold. Avoid cotton clothing as it will take longer to dry.
- Fire starters: Learn how to start a fire. It is a useful survival skill when you are spending extended time outdoors.
- Maps: In case your phone stops working. You will need another way to navigate. Old school maps.
- First aid kit: Foil blanket, antiseptic wipes, blister plasters, a selection of fabric plasters, bandages, pain reliever and sun cream. Don’t forget to pack any personal prescription medication.
- A compass: Learn how to use it. You will need a back-up plan in case your phone or GPS device fails.
- Panic alarm: Useful for attracting attention if you have slipped or fallen. They can even be used to scare off some animals. Carry this somewhere that you can easily access.
- An emergency shelter: If you have room, some tarpaulin and rope can make you an emergency shelter - in the event that you get stuck overnight or need shelter from a snowstorm/blazing sun-rays.
9. BE CAREFUL:
- Plants: There are several poisonous plants found in the UK, including foxglove, poison hemlock, monkshood etc. Even if you think you know which are safe and which aren’t, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Avoid touching and especially ingesting any plant life that you come across. The Woodland Trust has a valuable guide.
- Animals: Cows, deer, sheep, wild horses and ponies are all wonderful to encounter on your journey – but don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be in direct contact with them. These are large animals and if they are scared, you could get hurt. You will also need to keep a look out for smaller animals – bees, wasps, adders and ticks.
- Stay calm: If you are not used to being alone with nature, then you may feel especially panicked if things don’t go to plan. The very best thing that you can do is to remain calm. Perhaps practice mediation beforehand? Remaining calm helps your mind to figure out the best way to deal with any eventuality.
10. DON’T OVERSTRETCH YOURSELF:
Discovering the great outdoors is one of the supreme wonders of life. And pushing yourself to walk further/climb higher than ever before releases major endorphins. This is what brings us back every time, despite the weather and the sore feet.
But if you are tired, battling with the elements or have felt a new pain – then the best thing to do is to call it a day. There is always next time. Make sure that you keep yourself safe, so that you can enjoy this next time.