Our thoughts are with the families of the two soldiers who died on SAS exercise in the Brecon Beacons on Saturday – the hottest day of the year for Wales. The Brecon Beacons is home to the Infantry Battle School and is often used for military training due to its remoteness, but on this exceptionally hot day the unexpected temperatures proved too much. A third man is in a serious condition, lets all hope he makes a full recovery.
With this in mind, our local expert Jeff Calligan from Mountain & River Activities who does survival training in the Brecon Beacons, has given us some tips on important safety measures to take when hiking in the heat, and the signs to look out for if something’s wrong with you or a fellow walker.
Jeff’s Top 3
1. Water, water and more water
The most important thing is to keep hydrated. If you’re feeling thirsty, this means the body is already at the first stage of dehydration so keep topping up with H2O throughout your walk. Rather than fumbling for water bottles, carry bladders are the most efficient way to drink quickly and frequently by sipping from the tube carried over your shoulder.
2. Protect your head
Whether it’s a cap or a sunhat, your head needs to be protected from the sun’s vicious rays. Although it may be uncomfortable, its vital that your head is kept covered during your walk, especially in the midday heat.
3. Keep those energy levels up
As well as water, make sure you have something to nibble on during your trip before your body begins to tire. Whatever your snack of choice, the more sugar the better for long hikes so feel free to tuck in.
…What to look out for…
When in a group it’s important to look after each other, so keep an eye on your pack for the signs of early dehydration such as excessive sweating, dizziness or red patches on an otherwise white skin palette. This can also quickly lead a loss of coordination and incoherent speech if the physical symptoms are not as obvious.
…and how to deal with it…
First and foremost, drink as much liquid as possible and get in the shade. If heat stroke persists, cool the body down as quickly as possible by removing layers of clothing and dabbing a cool, wet cloth on the forehead.