With Mountain Rescue incidents in 2017 up 16% on the previous year, the Ordnance Survey and Mountain Rescue England & Wales appeal for common sense this summer

Mountain rescue incidents were up again for the fifth year in succession, with 2017 showing a 16% increase on 2016. In response, Ordnance Survey (OS) and Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) are asking the public this summer to keep cool and plan sensibly if heading outdoors.

2017 saw Mountain Rescue deployed 2,110 times, with 1,722 people volunteering 97,208 hours of their time to rescue efforts. There were only 9 days out of the whole year without a mountain rescue callout in England and Wales, and, as usual, the summer holidays were the busiest time of the year. The week of the late August bank holiday saw 80 incidents, and the week at the start of July saw 70.

Mike France, chairman of Mountain Rescue England & Wales, says: “Each week thousands of people head outdoors in Britain and enjoy their adventures without incident. We certainly don’t want to discourage people from doing this, but people need to make sure they have the right kit and have let someone know the route they’re taking if they are heading off the beaten path. This can save lives. It’s great to be partnering with Ordnance Survey’s GetOutside initiative and educating people on both the benefits and steps people should take to enjoying the outdoors.”

With little prospect of cooler weather on the horizon, OS and MREW have put together a few simple tips on how to keep safe in the extreme summer heat:

  • Take it slow and don’t push yourself to go too far. Be cautious. It can take time to properly acclimatise to extreme heat.
  • If possible, plan routes that keep you in the shade. Woodland walks can be better than hilltop ones if fierce sunshine is expected.
  • Set out early and end early to avoid the hottest time of the day.
  • Make sure you have plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. If you don’t know the area, or are off for a remote adventure, take plenty of water in case there’s no opportunity to buy water along the way. (Ed: or know how to safely top up from streams and other sources; filter or treat water if necessary.)
  • Avoid wearing dark colours that absorb heat. Wear light ones that reflect the sun.
  • Wear loose breathable clothing.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your face and neck from burning.
  • Apply sunscreen half an hour before heading outside and reapply it frequently thereafter.
  • Protect yourself with insect repellent and wear long sleeves and trousers in areas prone to ticks.
  • Always rest in the shade out of the sun.
  • If you or anyone in your party is experiencing heat exhaustion, lay in shade, remove excess clothing and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Download the FREE app OS Locate. The app does not require a mobile phone signal and is a fast and highly accurate means of pinpointing your exact location, anywhere on the planet. The speed at which it can do this can be crucial to MREW’s rescue attempts. (Ed: this app is recommended by Mountain Rescue and really does work. We recommend using it in combination with multiple navigation options, ideally including paper map, compass, and a full-fat nav app such as ViewRanger.)

OS Managing Director of Leisure, Nick Giles, said: “Mountain Rescue are volunteers who do an awesome job in often difficult circumstances. While you can never stop accidents, it would be amazing if we, as individuals, could help reduce the number of incidents Mountain Rescue have to respond to by better planning of our adventures and greater care in what we do and how we challenge ourselves. If you find yourself struggling – in the heat or with some other type of adverse condition – there’s no shame in turning back. The hill, mountain or walk will still be there tomorrow.”