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Safety outdoors

Be Safe in the Great Hebridean Outdoors: Look After Yourself!

TheHebridesis a haven for the adventurous, a veritable playground of outdoor activities. But any adventure entails a certain amount of risk. Here are some guidelines to help make sure that you have a safe time as well as a fun time…

Going it Alone

If you are going it alone or with friends / family, then here are some guidelines for you:

No secrets…
Whether you are walking, surfing, climbing or diving, be sure to tell someone where you are going, what you’re doing and when to expect you back.

Don’t Get Blown or Washed Away….
Don’t go too close to cliff edges on a windy day or you’ll be soaring like a seagull before you know it. Erosion also means that you should not go too close to a cliff edge even when it’s perfectly calm.

Four seasons in one day…
The weather can change quickly – check the forecast before you venture out to sea or on to the hills or cliffs and make sure that you have all the safety equipment you might need if you get in difficulties.

Trying something new?
If you’re trying out a new outdoor activity for the first time, think carefully about whether you are properly equipped and prepared. If not, then seek advice, take an experienced companion, or consider starting off with an organised group with a qualified teacher or guide.

Dress for the occasion…
Don’t venture out without the right equipment and clothing. With changeable weather conditions, a clear sunny day at the foot of a hill can turn in to a nightmare of galeforce winds, and zero visibility with clinging fog. Don’t take any risks – take compass, layers of clothing (always include a waterproof, and hat, scarf and gloves for higher hills) and some extra foods to keep you going. If you think the weather could be turning for the worse, turn back and head for home.

Beware of the sunshine….
As our weather section shows, the Hebrides has a lot more sunshine than you might expect, so don’t get caught out and ruin your holiday with dangerous sunburn or sunstroke. Even on a cool or overcast day, the sun burns your skin. Outdoor enthusiasts need to be extra careful – the higher you climb the more intense the sun’s rays; likewise sand and sea act as reflectors and shine the sun back on to your skin from the ground as well as the sky… Avoid being out when the sun’s at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm, apply good sunscreen of at least SPF 15 before going out and reapply often, particularly if you are perspiring or in water.

A harmless dip?…
Water may look safe, but is can be dangerous. Some beaches have dangerous rip tides, some have unseen rocks. Pools and lochs can be extremely cold, even on a warm day. Learn to spot and keep away from dangers. Remember it’s a lot harder to swim in cold outdoor water than in a warm indoor pool.

Skating on thin ice…
We don’t get a lot of ice in the Hebrides with the warm current of theGulf Stream keeping our average temperatures well above zero, even in the middle of winter. So when there is ice on our lochs, it tends to be very thin – so simply don’t go there!

Don’t upset the locals…
Gulls, terns and particularly skuas are very protective of their nests, dive-bombing anyone venturing too close and even hitting you on the head…

Water, water….
Make sure you take plenty of water with you – the average human needs2 litres a day, and that’s for a sedentary lifestyle in cool weather. Dehydration is dangerous, so even if it’s heavy, take plenty of water when you are out and about.

Don’t rely on your mobile phone…
Reception can be patchy in remoter parts of the islands, so make sure that you have suitable safety equipment for your activity.

Especially for windsurfers…
When you come here to windsurf come prepared to sail on your own, bring a flare-pack, spare ropes and a bum-bag to hold them in. There might be someone on the beach to see you in trouble, then again it might just be sheep watching. If there’s two in the water, that’s a crowd, make sure you know all the self-rescue techniques.

Cycling Safety

Especially for climbers, cyclists, kayakers…
If you have a brain, you really must wear a helmet – roads and rocks are hard, heads are soft – it’s generally the head that fares worse when the two meet.

Going it with an activity provider?

If you decide to book a holiday or a session with an activity provider, make sure that you are satisfied that the company has the appropriate health and safety measure and licenses in place and that they comply with the required UK and European legislation.

Follow the guidelines given in Going it Alone.

 

 

 

 

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  1. Pingback: New sites added « Isle of Harris, Scotland

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