Nature is therapeutic and revitalizing, it can provide almost unreal and transcendent experiences. It can change our lives and add numerous benefits is we embrace it as our lifestyle (as much as we can due to our commitments, work etc). But it can turn into our enemy in a second and work against us is we don`t get prepared!
The purpose of this text is to provide basic education and understanding of how to prevent the most common inconveniences in Nature. If you have any experiences or questions, feel more than welcome to contact me at any time. Also, in this text, I will focus only on the most common dangers in Nature.
Dangers can be divided into objective (the ones that we can`t affect such as weather, terrain, shortness of the day, temperature) and subjective– the ones which we tend to prevent.
In case of any serious accidents, Emergency Services (Mountain Rescue Team) should be contacted immediately, by phoning or messaging 999 or 112. Those two numbers are the same, 112 is a European number that you can use anywhere in the Eu. Both numbers are free of charge.
Not fit enough– never allow this to stop you as the fitness is cumulative- do start easy. Build up your fitness shape gradually and stretch after the exercise for 5, 6 minutes. Two exercises of 30 minutes are better than one intense of 60.
Know where you go– as a beginner, you don`t need to know to read the map to go to Nature. Make sure you don`t go alone and always know how to get back to the car. Different apps are available to track where you go, so you can easily return to the starting point (Wikiloc, Endomondo, OS Maps, Strava, etc).
Eat and drink– make sure you have a good and caloric snack with you and enough water (how much is really individual question). Have some nuts, protein bars, a sandwich, chocolate bar, etc. A good caloric breakfast is very important, such as oats with fruit and honey that will give you a lot of energy.
Adequate clothes– layers, layers! You should always feel slightly cold before you start walking as you will get warm very soon. You need to be able to put or take the layer off quickly if needed. In the beginning, do not worry about brands and expensive clothes, as for a forest walk, the clothes you already have are just good enough.
Sunstroke– never expose yourself to Sun too long without sun cream. Your skin will gradually get used to Sun rays as you spend more time outdoors. If you get one, hydrate, cool your body down, and contact your doctor.
Ticks– they live in grass and forests and can transfer serious diseases such as Meningitis and Lyme disease. Different repellent products are available on the market. The golden rule is to take the clothes off upon your return home and check your body (they can walk and search for the best spot for over 12 hours). Research your local area and read how potentially dangerous it is. If you end up with the tick, do not pull it out, don`t burn it, do not soak it in oil. Simply stop panicking, focus, take a toothpick, and start turning the tick in any direction, it does not have a thread. As you turn it, make sure that its body doesn`t turn back into the previous position. By turning it, it will simply come out. Sensitize and monitor the spot- any irregularities, contact your GP immediately. You can also buy different small devices for taking the ticks out.
Getting wet– make sure you don`t get cold and always have a spare clothes, socks and trainers in your car. And a small umbrella in your rucksack.
Hay fever- you might get a reaction in the forest or Nature, have your antihistamine tablets and do tell your guide if you suffer from any allergies (Sun, pollen etc).
Blister– the worst enemy on the walk, according to experienced long-distance walkers. Your guide should have some plasters and extra socks might help. Do not push the walk if you get one, it will just get worst.
Weather– always use a few forecasts and make your judgement. The weather can change quickly and affect your safety (such as rain, fog, temperature changes etc).