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Member Name: SusanLesley
Advantages: Being prepared can save your life
Disadvantages: Not being prepared can cost you your life
Ever since I was a little girl I have always enjoyed walking. We lived opposite fields and mom, dad and I often used to walk across them looking out for anything of interest that dad could teach me about and of course we went picking blackberries in the autumn.
Now I live on The Great Orme in Llandudno which provides stunning scenery and great walks but we are also on the edge of Snowdonia which opens up a whole other world.
Whilst I still enjoy walking I can only manage small walks these days as walking uphill gets me so out of breath I have to stop every few yards!
The reason for my writing this review is to say to you all out there - if you are going to do a serious walk - BE PREPARED! While we are on the subject teach your children the same message.
Our local news often carries stories of rescues performed by our Mountain Rescue Teams and the Air Ambulances and, whilst some of them are genuine accidents which have happened to the best prepared, some of the stories make for ridiculous reading!
There was a group of people a few years ago who decided to climb Snowdon. They were wearing shorts, t shirts and flimsy sandals and one of them was pushing a child in a push chair! They had to be rescued as the weather deteriorated and the child was suffering from hypothermia!
Let's begin with Snowdon - I am not talking about mountaineering here that's something that is completely different. What I am talking about is mountains like Snowdon where there are various paths up the summit. This means that anyone of a decent level of fitness can walk up to the top.
So what do you need to think about?
Well firstly the weather conditions at the base and at the summit can and often are completely different from one another. It can be beautifully sunny at the base but up on the top it can be cold, foggy or even snowing! Think about how long it will take you to get to the top and get back down. Don't start out at 3pm thinking you can get to the top and back before tea time! If you are not sure - ask a local.
So the first thing to think about is what you are wearing. Make sure that you have something warm and waterproof in case you need it. Wear sensible footwear that will protect your feet and ankles - the paths are all steep in places and they are tracks not tarmacked streets! Take a walking pole (or two) with you to help you to balance as you negotiate the rougher bits or as you cross streams. It helps if you have a rucksack or backpack of some description as you can then put all your bits and pieces in it, pop it on your back thus leaving your hands free for scrambling on the steep tracks.
Take a map and a compass with you and make sure that you know how to use it. If it does get misty it is very easy to lose all sense of direction. Take something to eat and drink too - if you do end up getting lost and taking more time than you anticipated you will need something to keep you going.
Make sure that at least one member of your party is carrying a well charged mobile phone as this could save your life. Having said that don't make it your first or only form of safety equipment. Take the other precautions to protect and look after yourself as described above and call the emergency services as a last resort. There are too many people these days whether up mountains or at sea who think that, as soon as they are a little bit lost or something minor goes wrong, they should call 999 and let someone else (usually a team of volunteers) take responsibility for their actions. I don't advocate putting yourself in great danger but do at least make an effort to sort yourself out rather than just calling 999.
This has been mainly about mountains - Snowdon in particular - but the theory is there for any walk that you may embark upon. Just take reasonable care, know where you are going and let someone know where you are and roughly what time you will return.
As I have said I am certainly no expert in this field (if you'll forgive the pun) but I do hear such ridiculous stories of people going out, ill prepared to the point of stupidity, and then calling the emergency services as soon as anything goes wrong.
Basically - use your common sense!
Summary: Think before you set out
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