Hiking Tips – Hill + Mountain Safety Tips (+ What To Do In An Emergency)

Person standing with backpack on and rainbow

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Ideally, you won’t ever end up in an emergency situation whilst out walking but in case you do here are a few useful tips and things that are handy to know.

And I’ve also included a few ways to not end up in an emergency situation in the first place! Might be a few obvious ones but hopefully, it will ensure a happier hike!

Any more tips for what to do in an emergency or how to prevent it? Tell us in the comments below.

How NOT to end up in an emergency situation

Firstly, it makes sense to chat through a few ways to NOT end up in an emergency situation. Ideally, you don’t want to be calling a Mountain Rescue Team when you’re out hiking and I’m pretty sure they would be much happier with you having an enjoyable walk.

Here are my top tips to stay safe whilst walking.

Check the weather

Planning is a big part of adventuring so be sure to check the weather, including the highest points on your walk.

I use Met Office or MWIS to check the weather for the main location and also the hills on the walk. You might be looking out for things like how rainy it will be but you can also check things like the wind speed, wind gusts, temperature (including feels like temperature with the wind chill) and visibility.

All useful to check if you’re walking up high or in an area that you don’t know very well. 

Rather limited views along the Great Ridge!

Choose a route for your ability (+ your group)

Plan a walk that’s fun and challenging but not so much so that either you or members of your group with struggle with the walk.

We have a mix of walks on the website with detailed guidance on whether the walk is right for you. Maybe a scramble route with your grandparents isn’t the best option for a Sunday afternoon stroll!!!

If you’re hiking solo then make sure you tell someone else your route – Full guide on hiking solo here.

Take a map + compass

One reason that the Mountain Rescue team get called out is in situation where people have got lost up on the hills.

A bright sunny day can quickly change when you’re out walking all day and visibility can go from amazing to literally seeing nothing in front of you! Kinder Scout and Higher Shelf Stones are common places that people can get lost.

Compass in snow
Extreme example! But navigating to Featherbed Moss in snow when the path vanished!

Many people use phones for navigation now, for example, OS Maps App NOT Google maps – (that’s absolutely no use in the hills as majority of footpaths aren’t on it). But be sure to have a backup plan, either a paper map and compass, a GPS device or a waterproof phone cover (Aquapac is a brilliant waterproof case) and power bank (I use Anker power banks – the 10000 is perfect for a day hike) to charge your phone.

Or all of those!

Wear the right footwear + clothes

Another common call out for the Mountain Rescue teams is a slip or trip on a walk. Of course, this can still happen with the right footwear but proper hiking boots or trail shoes instead of casual trainers or even flip flops (yes, I once saw someone hiking Snowdon in flip flops!!) can really help prevent this.

Be sure to wear waterproofs for rainy days and for colder days wear or pack some extra layers to keep warm, including hat and gloves 🙂

Pack the right kit

For a day hike in the hills remember that you can sometimes be further away from resources and help. Make sure you make enough food and water for your adventure. As well as a personal first aid kit and a form of communication if you need to call for help.

It’s useful to take a head torch and also a whistle for attracting attention (although some hiking backpacks have a whistle built in!)

Read the detailed guide here on what to pack for a day hike.

Don’t take risks

Whether you’re hiking solo or in a group, don’t take risks with tricky sections, bad weather or guessing the route, a recipe for disaster!

A scramble route might be perfectly safe on a sunny day but in wet weather, rocks become slippy and the risk increases. 

It’s worth stopping and accessing the situation before diving straight in! If in doubt, find a different way so you don’t end up either lost or halfway down a rocky cliff.

Or there’s always the same way back, so much better than putting yourself in a risky situation.

Carry a first aid kit

Remember in an accident, help isn’t available immediately, so by carrying a first aid kit you might be able to administer help before the Mountain Rescue Team arrives.

If you go walking a lot you could even book yourself on a First Aid Course, I’m doing one in June so will update with more useful tips when I’ve completed.

What to do in an emergency situation?

Calling Mountain Rescue

Blue skies, Mountain rescue team walking
Oldham MRT on a training exercise

I’ve personally been lucky enough, to not find myself in an emergency situation or had to call out Mountain Rescue. Although, I’ve helped many people out walking who are either lost or on their way to getting lost! 

As a Trainee Mountain Leader, part of the training covers what to do in an emergency situation, obviously every situation is different but here are a few guidelines what to do if either you have an accident or you come across someone that has.

If it’s a serious situation, you may need to call for help from a Mountain Rescue Team. Here’s what to do:

1. Make a note of all the important information

  • Exact location (use OS Locate or WhatThreeWords App)
  • Name and age of person injured
  • What injuries they have
  • How many people are in the group
  • Phone number you’re calling from

2. Find a spot where there’s a decent signal, (you might need to go higher instead of lower to get a good signal).

3. Call 999 and ask for the POLICE then ask for Mountain Rescue once you’ve been put through. Stay in the same spot until they call you back.

4. Make sure you keep both you and the casualty warm. I carry a silver foil blanket and also a survival shelter on my walks.

How to register for the text service 

If you’re in a bad phone signal you have the option to send a text but you MUST have registered prior to the emergency. Here’s how to register, it literates takes 30 seconds so stop what you’re doing and register now.

  • Send a text to 999 with the word ‘Register’ 
  • Read the reply and reply ‘Yes’
  • You’ll now receive a second text confirming you have been registered – that’s it all done!

Essential/useful gear to have

Here’s a quick summary of the essential safety gear to take on your day hikes to either prevent or use in an emergency situation.

These are all items I personally use and recommend, feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

How to use a whistle to raise help?

If you are in a situation where you are injured on your own and unable to raise help via normal methods, ie calling for help on a phone or texting then a whistle is your only means of attracting attention.

How to raise the alarm? – Simply blow 6 times on your whistle, stop and listen, the repeat. Continue this until help arrives.

It’s also handy to know this in case you hear a whistle being blown whilst out on the hills. If you are out hiking and hear 6 blows on a whistle, then firstly, signal to that person that you’ve heard then by blowing your whistle 3 times.

To find the person continue with the 6 blows and 3 blows of the whilst until you find each other.

Did you know this? Share with your hiking buddies as you never known when it’ll come in handy 🙂

Peak District Mountain Rescue Teams

Mountain Rescue Team vehicle

Did you know there are 7 Mountain Rescue Teams that cover the Peak District?

  1. Buxton
  2. Derby
  3. Edale
  4. Glossop
  5. Kinder
  6. Oldham
  7. Woodhead

Peak District Walks launched our charity patches to raise funds for the Edale Mountain Rescue Team but from next month we will be supporting all 7 teams by donating the money raised from our charity patches to the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation.

Let me know if you have any more questions about what to do in an emergency in the comments below


Need more help planning your Peak District trip?

Join our Peak District walks Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and Twitter for inspiration.

More information on the Peak District, including transport options, where to stay, best Peak District pubs + other useful resources.

Check out the 7 YHAs in the Peak District and find the best walks direct from your accommodation.

Find out what maps you will need for your trip here.

Top tips - Read our useful guides on hiking tips here.

Guided Walks with an introduction to map reading (see dates here).

Visit our hiking recommendations page, (footwear, clothes + kit).

Or get in touch and I will help as best I can :).

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2 thoughts on “Hiking Tips – Hill + Mountain Safety Tips (+ What To Do In An Emergency)

  1. John Dorrington says:

    Excellent advice. One comment – having a map and a compass is of limited help if you don’t know how to use them “off the beaten track”. I have met some seriously lost people who have had “all the gear but no idea”.

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