Get a reliable local weather forecast before you set off. The weather in the Beacons can change quickly. It gets colder the higher you go and wind-chill will have a significant effect on your body. At a given air temperature, wind speed reduces the temperature experienced by the body by an amazing amount – don’t under estimate its effect.
Plan a route that is suitable for the weakest member of your party and suitable for the forecasted weather (but be prepared for it to be worse).
Tell someone responsible what that route is. Make sure you have a map covering your route and a compass. Know how to use both.
Do a first aid course, and take a first aid kit with you.
Take appropriate clothing including waterproofs, spare warm clothes (lots of layers trap more warm air), hat and gloves, a torch, enough food and drink for the planned trip plus a bit extra for the unplanned part. Take a torch & a survival bag (if you don’t have one or know what one is get down to your local gear shop now, they cost next to nothing and may save your life).
Try to avoid relying on communications or position finding technology. A GPS is a great piece of kit, but when it breaks, the batteries go flat because of the cold or you drop it, you’re on your own. Get a map & compass. The best maps in the world are made by Ordnance Survey & cover the whole of the UK. The 1:25,000 Explorer series will give you more detail than you could ask for, but make sure you know how to read it. (You’d be amazed..! ) There is a very good reason why every MRT and professional outdoor activity provider uses these maps!
If things start to go wobbly, don’t panic. Don’t immediately get out your mobile phone and dial 999 (or your Mum, ‘cos she’ll dial 999 for you), unless it’s a medical emergency.
We’ve all gone a little astray from time to time and are better people for it. Try and work out where you are, use any visual or navigation aides available and do talk to strangers! Is it the end of the world if you walk down a route you hadn’t planned to?
If you need us, work out your 6-figure grid reference and throw in a description of some geographical features, use your mobile phone to dial 999, or send someone (or two if there are enough in your party to leave one behind with the casualty) to the nearest phone and dial 999. Mobiles often get a better signal higher up a hill – but don’t put yourself at risk.
Ask for Police then when you get through to them; ask for ‘Mountain Rescue’.
They will contact the appropriate Mountain Rescue Team. The system takes time – it’s not like calling an ambulance to a street. You will need to be able to tell them the number of casualties, the nature of the injury or illness and their location with six-figure grid reference. The less information you can give, the longer the process takes. You will need to stay near the phone because the Mountain Rescue Team will want to call you back. You will probably be asked to wait where you are while someone comes to speak to you, although don’t expect ambulances and flashing lights to necessarily come your way, you may not have come down the quickest or easiest way.
The whole process can take several hours, or more. Please don’t expect us to zip over in a helicopter and whip you away. This is unusual, and our work is normally done on foot. Work out how long it took you to get where you are, and add on travelling time for us to get to the road head. This will give you a rough idea of how long we’ll take.
With this in mind remember that the casualty is, presumably, not moving much and not keeping warm in the way your body is. If it’s not going to compromise the casualty’s condition or safety, try and insulate them from the ground and wind – people can become hypothermic in summer too
..but most of all enjoy the hills!