Safety first on #GetOutside adventures

If you’re a regular blog reader, it will be no surprise to hear us talking about safety. We launched National Map Reading Week last year and talk about safety tips every single year. So you can imagine how dismayed we were to read this:

When you also know that Mountain Rescue England & Wales (MREW) attended 1,812 callouts last year, up 170 on 2015, and that 500 of those callouts were avoidable, and reasons include people getting lost…then you can see why we keep talking about safety.

We’ve teamed up with MREW to make the great outdoors more enjoyable, accessible and safe for all, by encouraging everyone to be more mindful and better prepared when heading outside. Why? Because MREW’s 2016 callout figures showed incidents to be up for the fourth year running. And our own survey of 2,000 outdoors enthusiasts revealed 76% of British recreational walkers and hikers do not properly plan their route or what to pack in preparation of their walk/hike.   

Accidents happen

Yes, accidents happen. And we don’t want to discourage people from calling Mountain (or Lowland) Rescue in an emergency. But 500 incidents last year were avoidable. People calling MREW because they were lost, stuck, or ‘simply unable to continue’. That’s a huge strain on MREW’s resources and volunteers, who in 2016 gave up over 80,000 hours of their time helping and rescuing people who had run into difficulties.

Mobile maps and apps

OS Maps being used by Aleks Kashefi – don’t forget your paper map too when using a map app

While it’s somewhat encouraging that 42% of people take a mobile phone with a map app – we would never recommend using this as your sole means of getting outside. The fact that less than 50% of people would take a paper map and compass (and know how to use them) is truly worrying.

We love technology, we have OS Maps available online and through an app. It’s fantastic to plot your routes, take them out and about with you and track progress. But we always recommend taking a paper map and compass and knowing how to use them too. It really can save your life.

The generation gap

When our survey asked what people take with them on a walk, there was a generational reliance on digital. While 56% of over-55s would pack a paper map, only 35% of 16-24 year olds do the same. This was echoed with a compass – 52% of over-55s against 30% of 16-24 year olds.

How to stay safe when you #GetOutside

Help to minimise the risks by planning your trip. Follow these tips:

Who to contact in an emergency

Of course, accidents can and do happen, despite the best laid plans. But do you know what to do in an emergency? Only 7% of those we surveyed who had got into difficulties, called Mountain Rescue.

In case of an incident, MREW recommend you make a note of these details:

  • Location (ideally an OS grid reference – try our OS Locate app)
  • Name, gender and age of casualty
  • Nature of injuries or emergency
  • Number of people in party
  • Mobile phone number

Then you should call 999 and ask for ‘Police’ and then ‘Mountain Rescue’. Give the details above. Then wait, do not change your location.

More information on #GetOutside safety from OS and MREW

Find out more about map reading on our #GetOutside site.

Download MREW’s stay safe factsheet.

Read the full 2016 MREW incident report. (PDF)

Read more about our partnership with MREW and more details on safety.

See the full survey results. (PDF)

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3 Responses

  1. Chris

    I love technology. I use the OS locate app along with a map & compass & that’s all I need. Just a couple of days from completing the coast to coast & the app is very helpful, more for just ensuring you are on the right path than anything and can save you time. The fact this app works while I can leave my phone on airplane mode is also great as it means my battery holds up through the day, even in the cold. Still wouldn’t dream to go on any mountain without map & compass, the app is just a bonus.

  2. People are really reckless about such things. They always think that it’s not possible to happen to them to get lost or to have an accident, most of the time they are unprepared for such walks. To read a paper map and use a compass doesn’t need a university degree, so it should be used by everyone, because you can’t rely on the mobile apps always. There are few really important things, which don’t take a lot of time, but they can save your life.

  3. Fantastic blog subject. I am trying encourage people to #getoutside while promoting safety awareness and raise some money for Mountain Rescue Teams this summer with a 505 mile trail run through Britain, climbing the national three peaks along the way! The incredible resources available online, affordable skills courses and unrivalled OS maps are a huge factor in helping me stay safe on my #3PeAksRun Challenge

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