Hillwalkers urged to use 'common sense' by Scottish Mountain Rescue after spike of incidents

By Sean Murphy

Scottish Mountain Rescue teams are urging hillwalkers and hikers be well prepared and use “common sense” when heading outdoors this autumn.

The volunteers from teams around the country, who are on hand to to assist police, fire and rescue, and ambulance services with rescues 24/7, say they have seen a rise in incidents over the past month or two.

And with autumn now in full swing, the changing weather, darker nights drawing in and lower temperatures pose bigger threats to inexperienced and complacent walkers.

A post on the official Facebook page has offered some key tips for those looking to get out there and not land themselves in trouble.

Here is what they had to say:

  • Kit - Check your kit to ensure you are fully prepared. Ensure you have suitable clothing for any weather conditions you may encounter and have within your rucksack a spare warm layer (jacket, fleece), spare gloves, hat and extra food.
  • Map/Orientation - In addition to that it is important to have a map for the area you are walking in, a compass (know how to use it) and a torch and spare batteries. We have moved into autumn and the evenings are getting darker and the temperature is dropping.
  • Navigation aids - We recommend that you don’t use a mobile phone as your only navigation aid as they have their limitations, if you do get into difficulty try and keep as much charge in your phone battery as you can, (in the cold battery life is very short).
  • Before leaving - Leaving a route card of your intended journey with family or a friend can assist our Mountain Rescue teams too.
  • If you do get into trouble - If you do require assistance, phone 999 and ask for Police then Mountain Rescue, try and stay calm and give as much information to the operator as you can (what the emergency is, where you are, size of party, telephone numbers in your party, any known medical issues etc), bear in mind however that given the remoteness of some of the areas, mobile phone signal can be very poor and it can take a number of hours for the rescue team to get to you.

The team added: "With a bit of forward planning, looking at weather forecasts, thinking about your route and your skills will enable you to have an enjoyable day out in the wonderful mountain environment we have in Scotland."

One volunteer commenting on the post added: "People totally underestimate how cold they will get waiting for rescue. I am in a team which covers one small area and yet our best response is often 2 hours if they are near the summit in bad weather.

"In larger more remote areas and in bad weather response times could easily triple or even quadruple."

While another added: "Can I also suggest that if people take their dogs they have reflective collars (& ID tag), high visibility vests and put the dog on a lead if it has no/poor recall. It’s also a good idea to carry an equafleece or similar should the dog get excessively cold/wet.

"So many dogs go missing on the mountains and the vast majority have no safety gear on. An additional bivvy bag or silver sheet for the dog is also a good idea should the owner/dog become injured."

If you are looking to head out it is best to follow the advice above and stay safe out there folks.

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