The GO Outdoors Guide To Safety In The Outdoors
Part of being safe in the outdoors is:
- Staying alert and being aware of your surroundings
- Staying visible
- Keeping others informed of your whereabouts
- Dressing and packing appropriately for the activity ahead with the right equipment and tools
Whether you are on a horse, riding a bike, running or walking you need to make sure that you are seen by motorists and other road users.
Wear high visibility clothing or accessories to cover your height as well as your width, which is particularly important when you ride.
High vis should cover the width or your horse or your cycling pannier so that motorists can judge the distance needed to overtake you.
Head lamps and hand held lighting such as torches allow you to see your route clearly on the roadside, which are not always well lit.
Stay on the side of the road that faces traffic an always wear a helmet fitted correctly, compliant with safety standards.
Read more in our Guide to Cycling Helmets, Guide To Climbing Helmets and Guide To Horse Riding Helmets.
Have a vague idea of your route and what’s ahead can help keep you safe, as can a GPS or a compass combined with a map.
When you are hill walking to stay safe you should ideally have a preplanned route of where you are headed and people shoul know of your general whereabouts or your route.
You should also have other essentials in case you get lost such as:
- A compass
- A map and pen
- Any medicine you need
- Water purification tablets
- Warm layers
- A foil blanket
- First aid items
- A whistle
These main essentials should be enough to keep you safe until you reach safety/civilization if you do get lost.
One of the main causes of injuries/accident on the hill are based in poor planning.
You should make sure that you are:
Bothfor the present conditions, and future weather if you are headed out for a day. This includes appropriate footwear that you can walk in.
Ensure you have extra resources on hand such as energy bars or snacks that can be eaten without heat
Portable energy drinks, extra water and purification tablets are always worth taking
Able to see and be seen
By using high visibility as well as lighting such as a torch or a headlight you remain visible even in low light conditions
When climbing, head injuries are the main reason for safety being diminished. To learn more, read our Guide To Climbing Helmets which can explain how and what to buy.
Climbing helmets are essential to protect you not only from overhanging rocks and bumbs, but from falling matter and debris as well.
Headlamps are essential for climbing, and these should be strapped to your helmet. With the right headlamp, you should be able to vary the levels of light produced so you can not only be seen using a beam of light ahead of you, but can also be rescued by using a pulsing, or flashing feature.
Ensure you have all your tools, ropes and equipment ready and that it is in prime condition. If you are bouldering ensure you have a crash pad/bouldering mat to protect you during a fall.
Staying safe whilst skiing is mainly down to yourself once you are past the stage of being instructed so you shoul pay attention to what routes you can safely run, and always check your equipment.
Make sure you stick to the run that suits your capabilities as a skier, and don’t choose your route based on the level you want to be at.
Ensure you have your ski pass with you, as well as sunscreen or sunblock so you have full protection from sunburn.
Clothing and Footwear:
Layer your clothing for the same reason, and make sure if you are taking off layers at the top of the hill that you have on adequate sun protection.
Ensure that your skis and ski boots are fitted correctly. The wrong size of boot will push your foot forward as you ski downhill, encouraging your foot to ball up, resulting in an increased risk of injury.
Making A Fire:
Stay safe by making sure you never start a fire within the confines of your tent! If you need cover, use an awning or a canopy which can shield you as you cook, or use a kitchen stand which can also work to shield the wind and rain from your fire.
Lanterns should be hung securely away from children as they can heat up quickly.
Leftover foods should be disposed of both before sleeping, and before leaving the campsite as these can attract wild animals. In a similar note, food scraps should always be binned and not buried.
Correctly ensure that your tent is pitched securely, particularly in bad weather conditions.
If you are backpacking or hostelling you are generally at risk from a multitude of factors, although these vary according to your destination.
Typically these comprise:
- The heat
- The sun
To stay safe, ensure that you have:
The Right Clothing:
For backpacking in the heat your clothing needs to be technical and able to breathe and wick away moisture so it doesn’t get heavy when you perspire.
You should always pack as light as possible, yet carefully, with attention paid to a durable and comfortable pair of walking shoes or boots, as well as the right socks and baselayers that don't rub or irritate the skin.
Repellents with included DEET should also be used as an effective mosquito repellent, so long as you aren’t sensitive to any of the ingredients in it.
To combat against insects you can also wear clothing pre-treated at the manufacturing stage with an insect repellent. These are made with a coating containing an active ingredient that repels Mosquities, such as Nosquito, Craghoppers own version.
Read more in our guide to Insect Repellents, or our Guide To Mosquito and Nosquito
Use a lock on your main bag entrance, and when possible use a bumbag to secure your belongings. Carry only as much as you need, and if possible use lockers and safes as much as possible in hostels or hotels.
If you are outdoors during a storm, you should stay protected. Although the chances of lightning striking you are very small.
The chance of lightning causing damage to the local environment is higher, so trees can break and fall, or lightning can travel and conduct through items such as metal poles or steel capped shoes.
Generally in a storm you should:
Avoid Single Trees
Lightning can strike trees, which can then break and cause injury if you are underneath them. However it is better to be protected underneath a canopy of trees as opposed to one single tree.
Stay away from conductors such as metal poles found in tents, fishing rods or reels. rucksacks and canopies.
The lower down you can be in a lightning storm, the better. Therefore a low valley is safer than a hill top, and if you are in a shelterless environment, crouching or sitting on the ground away from trees can be your safest option.