Cumbria’s mountain rescue volunteers are urging people to take extra care on the fells after a 70 per cent leap in callouts this month.
Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said in the first three weeks of this month, members had seen a big increase in callouts and most were from visitors outside Cumbria.
Many of them were from Tier 3 regions, he said.
The association, which is the umbrella body for Cumbria’s 12 volunteer teams, including Patterdale, Penrith, Keswick and Cockermouth, said they had so far had 31 callouts, compared to just 18 last year.
It added: “Of these, lost and missing show the greatest increase with 17 999 calls compared to just six in 2019.
“These are incidents that could easily be avoided by good planning and preparation, checking the weather forecast and having the right gear and skill to get out of trouble and stay safe.”
The association said people can take simple steps to help the volunteer teams over Christmas and new year and help protect them from asymptomatic COVID-19 casualties, especially as the new strain has arrived in Cumbria.
- Exercise within your limits and avoid taking risks especially now that winter is here.
- Know your level of skill, competence and experience and those of your group.
- Make sure you have the right equipment for your trip to the hills.
- Learn how to navigate, take a water proof map and a compass, don’t rely on smart phone technology it can let you down.
- Take a torch, you never know when your activity will catch you out or you go to the help of a fallen, cragfast or lost walker.
- Take a power bank battery charger as it will save you a lot of grief plus allow you to take even more of those memorable photos. We understand why people want to leave their Tier 3 and Tier 4 areas, taking advantage of the wide open spaces in our parks but please remember that if a team is infected on a rescue it can mean the whole team has to isolate. This has to be avoided at all costs.
Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery, of Cumbria Constabulary added his support.
He said: “The voluntary mountain rescue teams in Cumbria do a fantastic job, responding to incidents in all weathers throughout the year.
“All the team members have had to take additional COVID-19 precautions this year and that has added to the burden of routine callouts.
“There is always the potential for accidents on our fells and they can happen to anybody, but where callouts are avoidable through a lack of planning and preparation this just puts team members and their loved ones at unnecessary risk.
“Venturing onto the fells at this time of year with limited daylight and extreme weather changes is a serious undertaking.
“Please adhere to the guidance on travel from Tier 3 and 4 areas and ensure that any outdoor activities are done well within the limits of your experience and equipment.”