IN THE last two scorching weeks, the coastguard, fell rescuers and air ambulance services have been called to the aid of scores of people who have got into difficulty while out on the fells or in the Bay.
Most of the time people have unwittingly stumbled into danger by not giving enough thought to the conditions.
According to Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, as long as people prepare themselves for the summer conditions before going hiking, there is nothing to worry about – it’s as simple as that!
“Look at the weather forecast and plan your route. Look how long it should take and how steep it will be. Do that by looking at a map before you even get out of the car,” said Richard, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a mountain rescuer.
“Make sure you have strong boots with ankle support. A lot of injuries we deal with are broken wrists and ankles where people don’t use the correct footwear. There’s a big difference between walking along the tops and going around a lake. Bring waterproofs because if you have to spend the night out there they will protect against the wind.”
Nutrition is especially important throughout summer.
In the last week the Great North Air Ambulance Team has dealt with two severe cases of dehydration and exhaustion.
“Take carbo-hydrates,” advised Richard. “Bananas, chocolate bars, energy drinks and snacks are good. You can drink out of streams as long as the water is running and you have checked for dead animals nearby. People have suffered from exhaustion. Most of the time it’s because they set themselves too great a target for the conditions.
“One young lad reported that he was having extreme cramp and muscle damage. He’d over-exerted himself and had to be carried off the mountain on a stretcher. There will have been others like this.”
According to Richard, many call-outs for mountain rescue teams are because people just don’t know how to get off the mountain – so a torch, compass and a mobile phone should be taken on any hike.
In summer, most walkers wear shorts to keep cool so it is vitally important they check for ticks every few miles.
According to the British Medical Council, the best way to remove a tick is ‘to get a good pair of tweezers, grip the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull it out’.
After a long stroll on a hot summer’s day there is nothing better than jumping into a lake, tarn, quarry or river, but this can be risky.
Disused quarries are especially popular at this time of year, but Richard has seen many people get into difficulty.
“If you’re a good swimmer and you check the quarry out before you go in then there’s no harm in swim-ming but the problem is when people don’t know what they’re doing and don’t prepare for it. If you’ve never done it before then don’t do it.”
Quarries have rock shelves so what appears to be deep water may actually be very shallow.
In the past, disused quarries have been used as dumping grounds and it is not uncommon for there to be old cars or barbed wire lurking below the surface.
They are usually very cold and the shock of diving in can cause the body to go into shock or cause a heart attack.
For these reasons it is safer to gently climb into the quarry pool.
South Lakeland District Council confirmed this week that highly toxic blue-green algae had been detected in Windermere.
Anyone using lakes, rivers and reservoirs should avoid water with a blue-green layer on the surface.
Contact with the algae causes skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhoea and it can be deadly for animals.
A year ago The Gazette ran a Safety on the Sands campaign alerting people to the dangers of quicksand and sudden tides in Morecambe Bay. Just a few weeks ago a teenager had to be rescued after getting stuck up to his waist.
Paul Calland, deputy station officer at Bay Search and Rescue, said: “We live in a lovely area so by all means go and enjoy it but be aware that it’s dangerous. Morecambe Bay is not like the beaches abroad. We have quicksand and you never know where it’s going to be and if you get stuck over your ankles you’re going to need a hand to get out.”