Police issue safety advice to hill walkers

Police are advising walkers to make sure they are well prepared before they set out walking especially in more difficult terrain.

Monday, 6th March 2017, 3:32 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:56 am
Latest news from Northumbria Police.
Latest news from Northumbria Police.

This follows recent incidents when walkers needed to be rescued by the emergency services, including one last month when a group of ten walkers became stranded in The Cheviots.

This led to a multi-agency operation between Northumbria Police, Police Scotland and Mountain Rescue being launched to search for, and rescue, the walkers.

The rescue involved over 60 volunteers from four Mountain Rescue Teams – Border Search & Rescue Unit, North of Tyne MRT, Northumberland National Park MRT and Tweed Valley MRT. They were found by Mountain Rescue near to the Border Ridge and taken to hospital as a precaution, only one was suffering from hypothermia, the others had minor injuries.

Now, Northumbria Police wants to prevent the necessity for such rescues over the coming weeks and months. Officers are reminding walkers to make sure they take all necessary precautions to stay safe before they set foot on the hills, moors, riverside and coastal areas in our region.

Chief Inspector Aidan Sloan, from Northern Area Command said: “We want to advise all walkers to make sure they are fully prepared for all weather conditions including adverse conditions when heading off rambling and to remind them to think about this and take suitable precautions before embarking on a trip.

“While the terrain in our countryside and seaside areas is certainly beautiful, it can be hazardous in certain conditions, if people are not fully prepared and wearing the right clothing to match the weather conditions.

“It’s always advisable for walkers to leave route details with someone back at base who can assist the co-ordination of any subsequent searches. Walkers should take note of safety tips to avoid making mistakes which can lead to people needing to be rescued.”

Iain Nixon, Team Leader of the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team said, “Walkers should plan their routes according to their experience, having checked the weather forecast, and take suitable clothing and equipment for the activity they have chosen to do. Recognising your limits, and staying within them, is essential to keeping yourself safe. Remember, the hills will always be there for another day – make sure you will be too.

“If you do need Mountain Rescue assistance – phone 999, ask for the Police, and then ask for Mountain Rescue.”

Safety advice for walkers

1. Plan and research your route so that you understand the terrain, how far you’re going, and how long it will take.

2. Let someone reliable and responsible know your intended route, your expected timings, and let them know as soon as possible of your safe return. This person should know how to alert the emergency services on your behalf and when it is appropriate to do so.

3. Check the weather forecast and if necessary adjust or change plans to fit in with the weather.

4. Take a map and compass, and know how to use them; do not rely on a GPS alone.

5. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather and terrain, and ensure you have additional layers in case you get caught out, and have the right gear including a whistle, bivvy bag, first aid kit and mobile phone with you.

6. Allow plenty of time for the walk - so you don’t get caught out as night falls; but always ensure you are carrying a torch.

7. Be flexible in your planning and, observe the weather and conditions. Make decisions based on how you feel and consider alternate options if difficulties are encountered.

8. Have plenty of food and drink as walking, especially uphill or on uneven ground, is hard work! High energy snacks along with slow releasing food should be carried and drink plenty of fluids.

9. Don’t be afraid to turn back if you, or other members of your party, get too tired or the weather worsens.

10. Plan for the worse - hope for the best. Make sure someone in your party has some basic first aid training, and register your phone in advance so you can text the emergency services if things go very badly and there is not enough mobile signal to phone 999


By taking on board this advice you should have a safe and enjoyable time when out walking and exploring our region.

For further information visit http://nnpmrt.org/hill-safety/