General Safety

Safety and Security

Walking should present no serious problems even to a beginner, provided a few simple rules are followed:

 Don’t take unnecessary risks by tackling overly long or difficult routes. Be realistic when deciding which walk to join and be prepared to wait for a more suitable walking route/date, if necessary, to ensure not only your own safety and well being, but also the safety of others.

 Make sure you carry plenty to eat and drink, with reserves of fluids to avoid dehydration.

 Ensure clothing is adequate for the length of time on the walk and boots/shoes are both suitable and in good condition, together with walking socks, which will help reduce the likelihood of blisters.

1 Consider using walking poles and slip on crampons when conditions require.

 Always carry a basic first aid kit and medication for necessary personal use.

 Take a sensible approach to the weather, which in Britain is rarely severe but changeable and often wet. Check the forecast before setting out, always take a waterproof and keep an eye on the sky. Rain, mist or fog and cold are the

obvious hazards, but strong winds can be a problem too, especially on exposed areas.

Walking on roads

When walking on roads, follow the advice in the Highway Code: use the pavement if there is one and crossings wherever possible. Where there is no pavement walk on the right, facing oncoming traffic, crossing to the other side before sharp right hand bends. This will help drivers to see you. Take special care on country roads with no pavements.

Level crossings

Take special care when crossing railway lines using level crossings, especially crossings without gates situated on footpaths. Always obey alarm warning signals and lights. If there are no warnings or lights, stop, look and listen, then look again before you cross, remembering that trains travel faster than you think and that curving lines and overgrown vegetation can sometimes obscure the view. If it is safe, cross quickly, taking care not to trip on the rails. When walking in a group, don’t just follow the person in front. Everyone should take responsibility for their own safety and stop, look and listen before crossing.

Countryside walking

When walking through the countryside, take care to avoid slipping and falling. Take extra care at stiles and where there is barbed wire. Ensure all gates are closed after all walkers have passed through. Take care when near to lakes, rivers, streams, brooks and canals and when crossing them, use tow paths and keep a safe distance from the water’s edge.

Hill walking

In hilly parts be prepared for more challenging weather, especially in winter. Conditions can vary dramatically from valley to hill top, and even in spring and summer, some areas can rapidly turn cold and windy. “Wind chill”, where the combined effects of high winds and cold air dramatically lower the body

temperature, is dangerous and potentially fatal. It is, therefore, especially important to be properly equipped when walking high up on hills in bad weather.

Warm and waterproof clothing is essential. In addition to the standard equipment for country walks, consider carrying the following:

 a torch and spare batteries
 a whistle
 additional warm clothing, including hat and gloves
 high-energy rations such as mint cake, chocolate, dried fruit  a survival bag

Mobile phones

Mobile phones can be useful to take on a walk and may prove a good back up in emergencies. However, they don’t work in some locations, particularly in some hilly and remote areas. They depend on limited battery power, and the signals from them cannot always be pinpointed with any accuracy. They are not a substitute for other safety precautions and the mountain rescue services stress they should be used to call for help only in cases of real emergency. If calling for help, make sure the mobile is turned on so emergency services can call back. (See Emergency Procedure below)

Biology Issues

Temperature and water

In cold weather the greatest danger is hypothermia or exposure: this occurs where the body temperature is chilled to a life-threatening level, and is aggravated by wind chill. To avoid it make sure enough warm clothing and extra food and plenty of water is taken on the walk.

In warm weather, the principal hazards are sunburn, windburn and dehydration. Sunhats, sun cream, and water can prevent serious sunburn or heatstroke.

Don’t underestimate the amount of water needed. Doctors recommend drinking 1.5-2 litres of water a day even for an ordinarily active lifestyle, however, more will be needed if walking strenuously and/or the weather is hot. Don’t wait until

thirsty to drink. Still mineral or tap water is adequate: fizzy drinks are not recommended as they take longer to drink, a problem if needing to rehydrate quickly.

Do not drink unboiled or non purified water from streams.

Blisters

Blisters are simply the result of friction, but they can make a walk a miserable experience. To help prevent blisters:

 Wear comfortable, good-fitting, worn-in boots or shoes, especially on long walks  Wear good walking socks in the right size; consider wearing two pairs
 Quickly remove any foreign bodies from socks and boots
 Ensure that the tongue and laces of boots are arranged correctly and evenly

 Check feet carefully and regularly for any sign of rubbing and tenderness  Act immediately if feeling any friction or discomfort: blisters can form very

quickly

If a blister develops, stop walking, take boots and socks off and examine the foot. Consider applying some material cushioning or padding, or a breathable waterproof plaster, or possibly some strips of surgical tape. Chemists and outdoor shops now supply a wide range of foot care products, including blister kits with ‘second skin’ dressings providing cushioning from further friction.

Natural hazards

Dogs and cattle

Treat untethered bulls and loose dogs with caution. Back away slowly, and report the incident to the police if the situation is considered unlawful as well as dangerous. Dogs can also be deterred by ultrasonic devices sometimes known as ‘dog dazers’, available from outdoor shops.

Other livestock can often be deterred from following too closely by turning to face them with both arms raised. Don’t brandish a stick, as this may excite them, and use an ordinary speaking voice rather than shouting. Don’t walk between a cow and her calf.

Insects
Insects 
can be a serious irritant. Consider carrying an insect repellent, and know

how to treat bites and stings.

Ticks and Lyme disease

Ticks are tiny blood-sucking insects found in woodland and moorland which attach themselves to passing animals and humans. Some ticks carry infections that can affect humans, the most serious of which is Lyme disease. The highest risk is in late spring and early summer. If walking through rough vegetation during these months, consider taking the following precautions:

 Wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts; protect bare skin on arms and legs with insect repellent.

 If a tick is found, remove it immediately, preferably with tweezers.
 After a walk, carefully brush all clothing and examine the body carefully for

ticks.

If part of the tick breaks off, or if any part of it may be left in the skin, consult a doctor immediately. If possible, take the tick folded in sticky tape, so that it can be sent for analysis. If bitten by a tick, seek medical advice straight away, indicating the concern about the risk of Lyme disease, since early treatment with antibiotics will normally prevent the illness developing any further.

Additional Guidance when leading a walk or when walking on your own recceing a walk for the Club

 Know where you are or have a map and the ability to read it.
 On longer walks, be aware of “escape routes” in case the walk needs to be cut

short for whatever reason.
 Be prepared to end a walk where conditions become unsuitable.  Make sure someone knows when you are expected back.

 Leaders should be aware at all times of the general well being of those on their walk

Emergency Procedure

 Make the injured or exhausted person as comfortable and warm as possible.  Don’t panic.

 Give basic first aid: stop any bleeding and keep airways clear. Don’t move the casualty if there is a risk of spinal injury.

 Use the distress signal – six blasts on your whistle/six flashes of your torch, repeated at one minute intervals.

 Use a mobile phone if possible (there may some reception black spots). If you are in a ‘black spot’ and have no signal showing on your mobile phone, dial 112, as this number is said to work in all locations.

 Send one person, or two if available, to contact the emergency services, but never leave the casualty alone.

 Dial 999 from a landline (112 from a mobile) and give the time and location of the incident, the number of casualties and the nature of the injuries/illness.

 Give an Ordnance Survey grid reference if you can, or a postcode if this is known. When using a mobile and 112 is dialled, most modern mobile phones give the emergency services your exact location via GPS. This will assist them in locating you when out in the countryside.

Note: not all mobile phones have a GPS system provided in them, a good reason for upgrading on a regular basis.

Adapted from wednesday walkers.org