Weather conditions in the UK can vary from hour to hour. There are also specific risks when venturing out into mountainous terrain in winter, particularly after heavy snowfall.
It’s important, therefore, to understand what weather conditions you’re likely to experience on your adventure so that you can plan and prepare accordingly. Some useful websites for assessing weather conditions are listed below.
- Link to MWIS (Mountain Weather Information Service) – http://www.mwis.org.uk/
- Link to SAIS (Scottish Avalanche Information Service) – https://www.sais.gov.uk/
- Link to Mountain Weather Forecasts – https://www.mountain-forecast.com/
- Link to Met Office – https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/
Always remember to double check the forecast on the day of your outing in case it changes.
There are many skills that you can learn, or be taught, to improve your confidence and competence when undertaking outdoor activities. For example you can learn to interpret and understand weather forecasts, how to navigate, how to undertake emergency first aid, and even such basic skills as how and where to go to the toilet.
At Blackdog Outdoors we are accredited providers of NNAS navigation training courses, as well as Mountain Skills training to the Mountain Training syllabus. Drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
You can book other training courses through the websites of the respective governing bodies (BMC, MTA, Mountaineering Scotland, British Canoeing) or at one of the UK’s National Training centres, such as Glenmore Lodge, Plas-Y-Brenin, or Tollymore Mountan Centre.
The Mountaineering Scotland website also has an extremely useful page on safety and skills, which gives information on such things as how to use an avalanche forecast, general tips on outdoor hygeine, and essential skills like navigation and first aid.
Outdoor activities by their very nature can involve a risk of injury. It may be worth considering personal insurance, particularly if you plan on heading into mountainous terrain.
Basic insurance packages are available to members of both the BMC and British Canoeing to cover UK activities, which is just one of the many benefits of subscribing for membership.
- Walking & Climbing Insurance – https://www.thebmc.co.uk/membership-benefits
- Canoeing Insurance – https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/membership/why-join-british-canoeing/insurance-towergate
For international expeditions you should discuss insurance requirements with your expedition lead / guide. Again, the BMC can provide bespoke insurance packages for most trips, and there are other organisations out there too that will provide one-off policies.
EMERGENCIES & INCIDENTS
With good planning and preparation, you’ll likely enjoy many outdoor adventures without incident. It is not altogether unlikely, however, that you may find yourself in an emergency situation or, perhaps, you may encounter someone else that needs urgent assistance.
It is important, therefore, that you know some basic tips and information on dealing with emergencies, or to ensure that help gets to you as quickly as possible should you need it. The following is not an exhaustive list and applies to various types of outdoor activity.
- Plan your route and make sure somebody at home knows of you plans, and at what time they should get concerned if they haven’t heard from you. Text that person should your plans change through the day (you may not have adequate phone signal to make a call).
- Invest in an emergency shelter. They’re relatively cheap, weigh very little, and are invaluable if you need to sit around for any length of time.
- The emergency services will need to know where you are if you call them out. If you’re not proficient with a map, or you don’t possess a GPS device / watch, then it would be worth installing <OS Locate> on your smartphone for free. OS Locate doesn’t require a phone signal to work and, when opened in the app, will provide a 6 figure grid location of your position. This isn’t incredibly accurate but will give the emergency services a reasonable clue as to your general location.
- Register your mobile device with the emergency services. As explained in our first tip, sending a text requires much less signal strength, and the phone will keep trying to send the text for a short period, meaning there is greater chance of the message getting through if you are moving or in an area of variable reception. If registered, you can send a text to 999 explaining the nature of the incident and your whereabouts.
- If you’re in a remote area and need emergency assistance, or you’re not within close proximity to a road, you will need to contact Mountain Rescue rather than asking for an ambulance. This can be stated on a text if registered with the emergency SMS service as per tip 3. If you’re able to make a call, then you should follow this process:
- Dial 999 and ask for the police
- When connected to the police ask for Mountain Rescue
- You will then be asked specific details, such as your location, number of casualties, description of injuries, etc. Give as much detail as you’re able so that the Mountain Rescue team can launch an appropriate response.
Hopefully you never have to rely on any of this information. Learning it could help save someone’s life, though!