Walking is an enjoyable past time but it is not without some risk.
The majority of outdoor activities involve risk to both persons and property.
There are many variables including, but not limited to, weather, fitness level, terrain features and outdoor experience that must be considered prior to walking.
The Walk Fife team have put together some safety tips to help you stay safe when venturing out for a walk.
Plan your route
Plan your route before heading out and leave a note of your route with someone just in case you don’t come back when you expect to.
Check the weather
Check the local weather forecast so you can choose and wear the appropriate clothing to match the conditions.
Learn how to read a map and use a compass and take them both with you!
Knowing how to use map and compass to navigate your way through the countryside is incredibly important and it is a skill that all walkers should learn before heading out into the wilds.
You should not rely totally on your smartphone or GPS device as your method of navigation as batteries can drain very quickly and, if you don’t have a map and compass as a back up, your day can turn from being a pleasant walk in the countryside into something more problematic and possibly harrowing.
A map and compass never run out of power and don’t require a signal in order to work correctly.
Wear suitable clothing
When outdoors walking, exploring and working having the correct kit is essential for your health, safety and comfort. We have put together a short guide on what clothing to consider – https://www.walkfife.com/clothing-equipment-i-need-walking/
Always carry some form of formal identification in case of an accident or medical emergency. If you are away from home on holiday or business, make a note of the address where you are staying.
If you have pre-existing medical condition make sure you have a note of it alongside your identification along with details of any medication you may be taking.
Take some money
It is often a good idea to take some money with you when heading out for a day’s walking. Having some cash will allow you to be more flexible.
If the weather turns bad, you may need to use public transport or sit it out having a cuppa in a local cafe. Make sure you take some coins with you as well just in case you need to use a public phone box or you need to spend a penny in a local convenience.
Take plenty of food and drink
Keeping hydrated and maintaining your energy levels when out walking is very important. Take plenty of water and healthy snacks to keep you going. Read our post on healthy walking snacks – https://www.walkfife.com/walking-snacks-i-take/
Take a personal alarm or whistle
If you are walking alone and have an accident, a personal alarm is a good way of signalling those nearby for help. A mountain whistle is also a good addition your kit – https://www.walkfife.com/lifesystems-mountain-whistle-review/
A mobile phone is a good device to take with you especially of there is a emergency. The phone should be fully charged prior to heading off on your walk.
If you are out for a full day and are using your mobile phone as a GPS device then it may be a good idea to take a power pack with you to extend the time it can be used in this role or use a dedicated GPS hand unit. Watch our video explaining the differences between the two – https://youtu.be/MkyW-OcricM
Be prepared for midges and flies
Midges are perhaps the most annoying pest in Scotland and I don’t think many walkers would disagree. Take steps to make sure you are prepared to fight off the little flying devils. Read our post about the best ways of avoiding midges and flies – https://www.walkfife.com/midges-and-how-to-avoid-them/
Walk facing oncoming traffic when walking on a road
If there is no path and you must walk on the side of the road, choose the right hand side where you are facing oncoming traffic. This gives you the best chance to see traffic approaching closest to you and you can easily take evasive action when needed.
Please abide by the Highway Code for walkers at all times – you can learn more by visiting http://www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/safety/highway-code-for-walkers.aspx
Crossing fields containing cows
Great care must be taken when crossing fields containing cows especially if you are accompanied by dogs.
Most animals are more scared of you than you are of them. The best way to avoid confrontation with any cows is to change your route to divert around their location.
If crossing a field containing cows is unavoidable, please visit this website for more information on how to approach it – https://www.thebmc.co.uk/Taking-care-around-cows
Make yourself visible
Wear bright colours when walking in daytime. When walking at night or in the darker times of year, wear light-coloured clothing and, if possible, reflective clothing or a reflective vest to increase your visibility to drivers, cyclists and farm machinery operators.
Walk dogs on short leashes
Keep your dog and yourself safe by learning proper leash walking. Long leashes can lead to all manner of accidents that can not only harm your dog but can also cause harm to others eg cyclists and other walkers.