First Aid, Safety and the 3 Peaks Challenge

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The 3 Peaks Challenge has become a very popular activity in recent years for raising money for charity. It's very admirable that people do this but while out and about (especially on Ben Nevis) I have seen loads of budding 3 peakers who just seem so under prepared. This lack of appreciation for personal safety is of a real concern to me. Most people who do the three peaks are not experienced hillwalkers or mountaineers. This lack of experience can lead you into a false sense of security about the safety aspects of what you are about to undertake.

Point one is about the weather. I'll use Ben Nevis as an example. I've climbed it when it's roasting in the Glen but blowing a hooly with low visability and 4-5ft of snow at the summit. Regardless of what you think you should wear, a small rucksack with a set of waterproof and windproof top and bottoms, a pair of gloves and a hat are essential. Cold and wet bodies become hypothermic bodies. Hypothermic victims usually need rescued.

Point two is about navigation. If you can't navigate stay with someone who can and make sure they know you are relying on them for that skill.

Point three is about hygiene. Do not pee with 50m of a water source. There is no requirement to deficate on these mountains. Go before you start. Fagile mountains have far to many open 'public' toilets on them behind convenient rocks that just harm and spoil fagile eco-systems. I have seen them and it's disgusting. Do not drink mountain water. The UK is heaving with sheep. Sheep faeces can pollute mountain water with bacteria which can floor you within 24-48hours. Not nice.

Point four is about hydration and hunger. You'll need about 2 litres of water per mountain. Drink a little and often. The secret is this. If you drink when you are thirsty then you're already dehydrated. Dehydration on mountains is seriously dangerous. Same goes for food. If you eat when you're hungry you are already out of energy. Foods containing piles of glucose are good.

Point four is about safety. You'll climb one mountain is the dark so you need a good headtorch and spare batteries. A whistle and an emergency foil blanket are two items I consider essential. Know who to use you whistle if you are in trouble. The International distress signal is six blasts followed by a one minute pause. Continue with this process. Rescuers will repond with three blasts followed by a one minute pause then repeated. Do not stop this process until you know your rescuers have made visual contact with you. Six flashes of your torch or six shouts of 'Help' are substitues if you do not have a whistle (but you will). If you can not be moved the foil blanket can help fight the onslaught of hypothermia.

Point five is about First Aid. Minor injuries are best treated straight away. Coming down rapidily significantly increases risks of falling and this will result in a graze or maybe a cut (hopefully nothing worse). We have but together a small and really affordable solution for this available from our ebay shop. We have also put together another guide on ebay with advice on treating these types of injuries. Please read it.

Point six is about coming down. Coming down is easier but much more painful that going up. I won't bore you with why, but it is. If you know you can take Ibuprofen (no allergies to it etc) take this at the summit to help with the pain and inflammation of muscles that will be incurred on the way down. Paracetamol does not have the anti-inflammatory properties that Ibuprofen has. Buy a supermarket brand it's cheaper and exactly the same stuff as in the more expensive branded products (trust me I am a Chemist).

So, be prepared. Make sure you are fit. Be knowledgable. Don't become a victim for the Mountain Rescue Services. Then, most importantly, you will enjoy youself.

All the Best.

Nick (Director).

Outbound First Aid Ltd.

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