The Kingdom of Fife has yet again been treated to some spectacular walking weather this week.
The clear skies and brilliant sunshine encouraged many people to hit the many trails and pathways of Fife.
As a result of the good weather, the Walk Fife website saw a remarkable increase in visitors as people looked for new walking routes to enjoy. It is nice to see that the website has become so popular and is helping so many people to both explore the region and get active.
My plans for this week were yet again altered thanks to my day job but it didn’t stop me from getting the miles logged for my challenge. I headed out to explore some routes in and around Fife that I hadn’t walked before and I had found on the Walk Fife website.
While I was walking a trail in the East Neuk I came across three women gathered around a bench on which their friend was slumped and looking pretty ill. I stopped and asked if they need some assistance and I quickly spotted that this lady was suffering from dehydration.
Luckily I had plenty of water in my pack which I offered to her and she gladly accepted. After drinking the water and calming down, she began to feel much better and after 20 minutes was able to walk at a slow pace with her friends back home. It amazes me how many people don’t prepare themselves for a day’s walking in the sunny weather.
Dehydration is without doubt one of the most serious issues for the walker. The lack of fluids and exposure to a blazing sun can quickly lead to heat exhaustion or the even more serious condition, heat stroke.
The warning signs of heat exhaustion can include headaches, dizziness, excessive sweating, cramps, loss of breath and intense thirst. If someone you are with starts to show these signs then it is important that they are cooled down. The NHS suggests the following four steps to cool someone down :
- Move them to a cool place.
- Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.
- Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.
- Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good too.
They should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes but stay with them until they are better. If they aren’t feeling better after 30 minutes or their symptoms get worse then they may have moved on from heat exhaustion through to heat stroke which is a very serious condition and efforts should be made to call 999 for assistance as soon as possible.
Avoid the problem
The key to avoiding falling foul of the warm weather is preparation. In warm conditions I make sure that I pack my insect repellent, sun block and, most importantly, a full water bottle to make sure I am prepared for the day ahead.
Before you head out walking make sure that you drink plenty and that you have packed enough water for the day ahead is vital and it is essential to drink regularly throughout the day to keep your fluid levels topped up to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Wearing a sun hat helps especially in more exposed areas as does a light long sleeved top or shirt. While sun block helps prevent sunburn it also helps to prevent your body from overheating / dehydrating and it is worth reapplying this throughout the day to make sure your remain protected during your walk.
I was particularly thankful that I had packed my insect repellent as the routes I walked this week were packed with thousands of flying insects all wanting to say hello to me and, in some cases, have a chomp of my exposed skin.
The Walk Fife team tested a number of insect repellents and posted the results and a article on the website that may be helpful to fellow walkers looking to avoid these winged menaces – http://www.walkfife.com/midges-and-how-to-avoid-them/
I have found that Smidge works best for me but it doesn’t work for my wife and kids who have to use a different repellent and this is simply because everyone is different so it is important you find the one that works for you. A bug net is also a good thing to pack as it prevents the flying devils from getting in your eyes, up your nose, in your ears and down your throat.
Week 20 lessons
The weather was perfect, the trails were great and the scenery was stunning and, while I think I was doing well, I have found myself a little behind on my schedule. I think that was due to my day job this week as it has been exceptionally busy and has involved a lot of traveling and this is something I will have to address in week 21.
The incident involving the dehydrated walker has made me aware that we at Walk Fife should perhaps take steps to help people avoid issues such as that by posting more articles to the advice section of our website. It is important to us to not only encourage people to get out walking but to get out walking safely and it would be great if we can do do this through our website.
Week 21 promises to be equally nice in terms weather and I am fortunately going to be nearer to home base for the majority of it. I am looking forward to taking advantage again of the Fife Coastal Path this week and will be accompanied by some new members of the Walk Fife team as I walk our magnificent coastline.
If you have any questions about this challenge or anything Walk Fife related, then please drop me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me through my twitter account @SDMakin.
Catch up with you again next week.