One of the best ways to handle an emergency is to avoid one in the first place but there are times when even experienced walkers find themselves in situations that mean they require assistance. To make sure you’re as prepared as possible
- Ensure you check the weather before you travel
- Make sure you’ve got the right equipment for you for the terrain and conditions
- Know your route
- Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back
- Don’t try to tackle routes that are too difficult for your experience level
- Don’t take unnecessary risks
If you achieve the above, you will mitigate the chances of injury or requiring assistance but, in the case that you do find yourself in an emergency situation, here are some useful tips to help.
Although this may sound obvious, being in an emergency situation can put you under immense pressure and there is the potential to make decisions rashly. It is better to remain calm, evaluate your situation and how best to resolve it and them formulate a plan. As long as there are no life threatening injuries, the priority is to keep dry and warm and then to seek help or rescue and finally, remain hydrated.
Stay Dry & Warm
If you are in an emergency situation, it is important to keep dry while you wait for rescue. Firstly, if you are exposed to the elements, try to find cover and when you are protected from the elements, change into whatever dry clothing you have.
Wet clothes radiate heat upto 25 quicker than dry clothes so without keeping dry, you are likely to lose body heat quickly.
If you have one, once you’ve changed into dry clothes, use your survival blanket to retain heat.
Send an SMS
If you’re caught in an area with little or no phone signal and you have an emergency which requires the help of mountain rescue, you can send a text message to 999 and communicate via text rather than phone. While communicating, make your message as descriptive as possible detailing which emergency service as well as what and where the emergency is.
The benefit of this is that text messages are only very small packets of data so don’t need as strong or stable a signal as a phone call does. The emergency services can reply via text and, if you lose your signal, the message will be delivered to you as soon as your signal returns.
Important note: to use this service you must first register your device by texting the word ‘register’ to 999. After you have sent the message you will receive a reply detailing the service and once you respond with ‘yes’ you’ll receive a message that either confirms your device registration of one that informs you there has been a problem registering your device.
Use your whistle
If you can’t reach the emergency services, or even if you can and you need to make people aware of your location, you can use your whistle to draw people to where you are. The international distress signal is 6 blasts on your whistle followed by a gap of 1 minute before repeating. The sign that someone has heard you is that they will reply with 3 blasts.
Even when you’ve heard the reply, do not stop repeating your 6 blasts every minute until you are sure you have been seen and located.
Important note: Most modern rucksacks have a whistle built into the chest strap. If you are caught in trouble without your whistle, check your rucksack to see if there one built into one of the buckles.