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Mountain, Outdoor and Water Safety

With its dramatic and often challenging peaks, Scotland is an extremely popular area for climbers and walkers alike.  However, at any time of the year the weather can change rapidly, turning what started out as a sunny day's hillwalking or climbing into a dangerous expedition.

If you are planning a trip it is sensible to take simple precautions before heading into the wilderness, to ensure that you do not require an emergency search and rescue.

Here are some simple - yet potentially lifesaving - rules to follow before setting out.

What should I bring?

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers.
  • Warm trousers and a fleece.
  • Gloves and a hat.
  • Gaiters.
  • Good, sturdy walking boots.
  • Rucksack.
  • Head torch.
  • Map (ensure it is the correct one, and protect it from the weather).
  • Compass.
  • Whistle.
  • Bivvy Bag.
  • Spare food.
  • Small First Aid kit.
  • Mobile phone.

What else should I think about before setting out?

It is also vital that you ensure all in your party is fit for the walk, and at least one person has the ability to use a map and compass accurately in mist, darkness and severe weather.

Always notify someone of your intended route and expected return time. You can do this by either leaving details with a family member or by filling out a Climbers Location and Identity Verification form. You can also access further information here, and at the Scottish Mountain Rescue Website

What should I not do?


  • Go without being able to navigate
  • Rely on rescue (take full responsibility for your own safety)
  • Assume the route is over once you get to the top (half of all accidents happen in descent)
  • Be inflexible about objectives
  • Be complacent about the weather
  • Rely on mobile phones
  • Leave your mobile switched on (you may require all of its battery power if rescued)
  • Dial 999 at the first hint of trouble (always think is 999 really necessary? If not, use the dial the police non-emergency number 101)
  • Rely on Global Positioning Satellite devices (they are only an aid)

You can also view some mountain safety videos from Forth Valley Police below.

Further Advice

For an up-to-date mountain weather forecast and snow condition for Scotland, please visit the following websites:

Water and Coastline Safety

Everyone wants to see our countryside and enjoy our waterways and coastline.  However any area of water, including reservoirs and canals, can hold hidden dangers. Scotland has more than 37,000 separate stretches of inland water and over 11,500 miles of coastline when including both mainland and island coast.  With many stretches located in remote areas, help will often be some considerable time away.

Take responsibility for your own actions and make sensible decisions to stay safe around waterways.  The best advice is to be aware of the dangers, think about the risks and plan to minimise them.

Find out more about inland water safety from our partners Scottish Water at

To get more information about how to enjoy sea sports and Scotland’s coastline safely, get advice from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) at

General advice about water safety is also available from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) at

In the event of any inland water emergency, contact the police by dialling 999.  In the event of a coastline emergency, contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency by dialling 999.


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