Cumbria’s Mountain rescue teams have experienced a big increase in the numbers of call-outs during the first three weeks of December.
There were 31 call-outs this year – a 70 percent increase from the 18 in 2019, the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSMRA) has confirmed.
Of these, lost and missing show the greatest increase with 17 ‘999’ calls compared to just 6 in the previous year.
The LDSMRA say the concern is most call-outs are due to visitors from COVID Tier 3 and 4 regions and that incidents could 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.
Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery from Cumbria Constabulary added his support saying: “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 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.”
The LDSMRA has provided a list of recommendations for those heading out into the Lake District and how to do so safely:
- 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 waterproof 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; it will save you a lot of grief plus allow you to take even more of those memorable photos.
A LDSMRA spokesperson said: “Team members are all unpaid volunteers and must protect them from asymptomatic covid casualties, even more so with the new strain that has already arrived in Cumbria.
“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.”