Equipment & Safety

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Hazards & Insurance ??

Our insurance company advises that  - 


“all sporting and leisure activities have inherent hazards associated with them. Rambling is no exception. In spite of the safety of members always being the paramount concern, accidents will occasionally occur. It is important therefore, that when entering into the activity, each member appreciates that they have a responsibility to identify the hazards associated with the activity and take all reasonable precautions to eliminate or minimise the potential for an accident to arise.”

Hazards we may encounter when walking

Surfaces – may be uneven, wet, rocky, loose, slippery, icy, thick with snow – leading to the potential for falling. On roads traffic passing is a hazard.


Features of the environment – e.g. walking through a heather moor or through bracken or under low trees or past areas of nettles or across boggy areas. Hazards include bruising and cuts and acquiring insects which may cause later problems (e.g. stings, or tick bites).


Weather – Changeable /Unpredictable – Extreme heat to extreme cold, dry to very wet and thunderstorms – exposure to which can lead to a range of conditions from overheating to hypothermia.


Our fitness level – Will determine how well we can cope with the demands of the walk.


Hunger & Thirst – If we do not eat or drink sufficiently – we may experience fatigue and dehydration


Our General Health - We are more susceptible to problems whilst walking if we have a health problem e.g. suffering from a recent infection, diabetes, recovering from a serious illness, have feet, knee and hip problems, or we have a heart condition or we suffer from allergic reactions (e.g. hayfever or reaction to bee stings).


Medication we are taking - Effects and side effects of medication can create hazards e.g. if medication leads to dizziness or fatigue,


Other walkers - People we are walking with may present hazards e.g. if someone in front stops abruptly or if we catch their walking pole.

Emergencies

Some emergency situations involving one or more members of the group:


1) Injury e.g. member has slipped and sustained injury to ankle preventing the person from walking further 


2) Medical condition - e.g. walker suffers from diabetic emergency or has a heart attack.


3) Severe weather - affecting the ability of the group to walk safely. 


The leader will normally provide guidance on dealing with the emergency. In the first instance other members should ensure their own safety (e.g. if cold use an emergency shelter if available, move to safe, even ground if on a slope) and be alert to other dangers. 


If a member of the group is ill or injured some attempt should be made to determine the nature of the problem and provide any appropriate first aid. Check whether the injured party has any medication for their own condition


Emergency services should be contacted where possible using mobile telephone and 999 call. On the mountains this should be directed to the police who will contact Mountain Rescue Services. Where possible details of the location should be given. If no mobile reception is available, then two members of the group, who are suitably equipped should seek help by finding a location where help can be called for.

The Weather

We experience a wide variety of weather conditions on our walks, but we will not cancel walks due to bad weather, excepting when the coach cannot travel e.g. due to snow conditions, or if because of extremely bad weather insufficient people have turned up (this applies to the coach walks on Sunday).


It is important to be prepared for all possible weather conditions (see guidance in the equipment section). Hot weather can be as challenging as cold and wet conditions.

What to Wear

It is a good idea to be flexible with your clothing so that you can adapt to changing weather conditions during the day. 


Even in the summer temperatures may start off warm, but higher up the mountain the weather might change and the temperature could drop to nearly zero. With wind and rain adding to the picture, then having a range of clothes to meet all of these conditions is desirable.


Layers are often thought to be best. Several thinner layers are more adaptable than just one thick layer, especially on the upper body. It is important to keep hands and head protected, especially in the winter, but in the summer hats and sun cream protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.


Good footwear is important. Depending on the time of year and the local conditions this might range from walking sandals to strong walking boots. 


We do experience a lot of wet and muddy conditions in the winter where good boots are essential. Added protection is provided by gaiters.


Waterproof gear is also vital. Lightweight cagoules can give good rain protection and waterproof trousers protect the legs, giving additional warmth as well

Food and Drink

Take plenty of food. Choice is yours but better to have extra when you are running out of energy. It is a good idea to have snacks e.g. late morning before lunch and mid afternoon.


In summer plenty of liquid hot or cold. Dehydration can be a problem on a long hard hot walk. 


In winter, hot drinks in thermos flasks are favoured by many walkers. Milk has been shown to be better than water for rehydration and has additional benefits for depleted muscles.

Equipment

Footwear

Lightweight walking shoes in summer are often sufficient.


Walking boots provide more protection on difficult terrain and when the ground is wet. These can be purchased in outdoor shops. It is best to have them fitted to ensure comfort and to wear them in before embarking on a long walk, otherwise there is the risk of getting blisters.


Gaiters give additional protection to the legs and feet.

Layers - upper body

Thin layers 2 or 3 e.g. vest/shirt, polyester top. Man-made are often quick drying but many people like merino wool.  A spare fleece top or down jacket is worth keeping in your rucksac.

Hats

Summer hat - to protect head and face from sun. 


Winter hat to provide warmth. In windy conditions it is good to have a hat with a neck cord.

Gloves

Gloves are essential especially during the colder months, but even in summer the hands can get cold at higher altitudes. Several pairs take up little room. If one pair gets wet they can be replaced with another.

Trousers

Shorts in summer are very comfortable. 


Long trousers - many types available some with stretchy material which flexes as you bend. 

Avoid denim or other thick cotton materials which can get very wet and take a long time to dry.

Waterproof Clothing

Waterproof jacket - Goretex or other waterproof material, though many walkers like Paramo gear especially during the winter.


Waterproof overtrousers - it is worth keeping a pair in your rucksack in case of rain.

Some garments have a water resistant finish e.g. normal walking trousers, but these may not keep you dry in heavy rain.

Rucksac

A good rucksack with a frame will be easier to carry. Size will depend on how much you bring with you.

Maps

Maps are essential if you are finding your own way, but also if you want to know where you are walking when being led. Walkers find the Ordnance Survey 1:25 maps are most useful as they show full details of paths and field boundaries.

Compass

Used together with a map in competetent hands a compass is an essential tool for navigation.

Walking Poles

Walking poles can facilitate getting up hills and provide valuable support coming downhill and when walking across uneven ground. 

Mobile Phone

Great for emergencies or just if you need to report that you are running late! Modern smartphones with location information (gps) can provide emergency services with an accurate location.

GPS Device

A good aid to navigation and especially useful if you are lost. A lot of choice e.g. bespoke device like SatMap or apps that can be used with modern smartphones.

Torch

Good to carry especially in the winter. LED torches are fairly cheap and give good light in dark conditions. Remember to bring a spare battery.

Whistle

Good safety tool to carry at all times. 6 Long whistle blows in emergency (alternatively 6 long flashes with the torch).

Emergency Blanket / Bivvi Bag

The lightest emergency blanket is a very compact foil based product, but despite it's size useful in an emergency if someone is injured and needs additional warmth and protection. Alternatively a plastic orange bag can be carried approx size 4' x 8' which will provide warmth and protection.

First Aid Kit

Another essential thing to carry. Can be purchased cheaply, but handy for simple injuries like blisters or cuts. Make sure to take any medications that you use with you.

Suncream

Important not just in the summer as at higher altitudes ultraviolet rays are more penetrating. Keep a small dispenser in your rucksack to top-up during the day.