The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
How To Stay Safe When Swimming In The Lakes
With approximately 16 million visitors each year The Lake District is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Many of the visitors come to walk, hike and enjoy the magnificence of the mountains, valleys, towns, villages and undoubtedly the Lakes. With so many visitors it’s little wonder that there are times when the Cumbria Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) are needed.
Responding to emergencies the teams deal with hundreds of incidents every year and yet these highly trained people are all volunteers, relying on charitable donations to continue their much needed, and often life saving, work.
In 2016 the rescue team at Wasdale responded to six emergencies in just 12 hours. They stated they were ‘shocked’ at how many walkers knew few ‘basic outdoor skills’. In the infographic below we take a look at some statistics on rescues across the Cumbria region. The piece also includes some advice from the MRTs on the importance of following the country Code and how best to stay safe.
Providing hints and tips of what you should be aware of, and what you should always take with you, when walking in The Lake District, the infographic offers some vital information that could just help to save your life. So read on to find out more about Safety in the Lakes.
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STAYING SAFE IN THE LAKES
THERE ARE 12 MOUNTAIN SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAMS COVERING CUMBRIA. THEY HAVE TO DEAL WITH…
VISITORS PER YEAR: 16 million
AREA CUMBRIA COVERS: 6,768km(2)
POPULATION OF CUMBRIA: 500,000
RESCUE CALL OUTS IN 2015: 535
NUMBER OF FATALITIES IN 2015: 30
INCREASE IN INCIDENTS FROM MOUNTAIN BIKING FROM PREVIOUS YEAR IS: 185%
Lake District Mountain Rescue Teams Incidents & Deaths 1968 -2015 [Chart]
Before stepping out on the fells, you should prepare carefully for all eventualities.
PLAN YOUR ROUTE CAREFULLY
CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST
Weather in the mountains is generally colder and more severe than in the valleys. Rain, snow, and fog are possible at any time of the year.
LEAVE DETAILS OF YOUR ROUTE WITH SOMEONE
Include how many people are in your party, their names, ages, and any factors that may affect their health, such as chronic diseases or disabilities. Also a description of what everyone is wearing will help if you need to be searched for.
EAT WELL BEFORE YOU START AND TAKE ENOUGH FOOD AND WATER WITH YOU
Take at least 1 pint of water fore very hour you’ll be hiking. Water can be heavy, so a water filter is a great investment and means you can fill up at streams and lakes. Popular food choices are jerky, dried fruit, fig bars, nuts, and energy bars.
WHAT TO PACK
SUITABLE CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR
- Footwear – Sports and outdoor shops sell a range of suitable boots and shoes. Don’t forget a good pair of socks as well, to help prevent blisters.
- Layer your clothing and think warm, windproof, and waterproof.
- Spare clothing in case you should fall in water or tear anything. Also a hat, gloves, and extra socks – even in summer.
FOOD AND RINK
- Take plenty of food and drink to last the whole day.
- Take a range of high energy snacks, such as chocolate, fruit, nuts, or Kendal Mint Cake.
- Always carry plenty of water. You can become dehydrated even in cold weather. And remember, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
- Spare batteries and bulb for the torch
- Mobile phone and GPS
- First aid kit
- Ice axe and crampons and a survival kit in the winter
Keep an eye on the weather. Clouds, wind, and pressure can indicate approaching bad weather. Keep your party together. Only go as fast as the slowest member of your group. Watch out for signs of hypothermia. Keep others aware of any changes in your plans whenever possible.
WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY
MAKE NOTE OF:
- Location (grid ref if possible)
- Name, gender, and age of casualty
- Type of injury or emergency
- Number of people in the party
- Your mobile phone number
DIAL 999 OR 112 AND ASK FOR”Cumbria Police” and then “Mountain Rescue“.
Don’t panic. If you call for help, stay in the same position until you are found. When using the whistle, blow 6 hard blasts in a minute. Stop for 1 minute and then repeat. Continue until someone reaches you. Don’t stop even if you hear a reply as the sound may be a direction finder. Be prepared to turn back. The weather can turn against you very quickly. Be aware of your limits. Don’t try to exceed your experience. Avoid unstable areas or steep slopes, especially in snow or ice.
THE COUNTRY CODE
- As well as staying safe, it’s also important to respect the nature and life around you. Here’s how to follow the Country Code.
- Respect the working life of the countryside. Your actions affect people’s livelihoods, the heritage, and the safety and welfare of both animals and people.
- Leave gates as you find them or follow the instructions nearby. Sometimes, farmers leave gates open for a reason.
- Use gates, stiles, or gaps where provided. Climbing over walls, hedges, and fences can damage them.
- Be careful not to disturb or damage historic sites or ruins.
- Leave machinery and livestock alone. Try to alert a farmer if you see an animal in distress. Do not interfere.
- Protect plants and animals by taking your litter and left over food home with you.
- Do not remove plants, rocks, or other features as they provide homes for animals and wildlife.
- Keep dogs under close control so they are not a nuisance to other people, wildlife, or animals.
- Guard against any risk of fire.
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