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Safety

With the beauty and ruggedness of the Highlands can come some challenges, these can be especially emphasised given the remoteness but even close to home nature should be respected. Some tips for staying safe are below, this list is not exhaustive;

- A mobile phone should be an essential item for anyone venturing off the beaten track or even visiting the woods behind their house.   Reception can be patchy in Highland but for emergency calls (999) your phone will use any mobile provider.  

- You can register your phone to use the 999 number by text which can be more practical when reception is poor,  also you could download a GPS based location finding app like www.what3words.com which can provide an easy to use location to emergency services if you do not have a map or know a grid reference for your location.

- If you are venturing on to the hills or further afield than normal it is useful to let someone know of your plans and your expected schedule or time of return.

- A paper map and compass is still considered essential kit for hillwalking and mountaineering.   

 

Ticks and Midges

Midgies can make a trip outside, especially when say camping or picnicking, a misery. Luckily, aside from the nuisance factor, midges do little or no long term harm - a midge net, long sleeves, repellent and bite cream (for those unfortunate to react to the bites) can mean you are not forced indoors except in the worst of attacks. The Scottish Midge Group produce a forecast during the season, www.smidgeup.com/midge-forecast, and all the further information and advice you could need.

Ticks however are a different matter, they are small parasitic insects that feed on the blood of mammals and birds - including you.  They are found in many parts of Highland, living in tall grasses, shrubs, bushes and tree branches. They can attach themselves to you as you brush past or sit on the ground and unfortunately they may carry diseases including Lyme disease.    Ticks once on you will seek out preferred areas of the body (armpits, backs of knee, hairline, groin etc.) and though you will not feel it they will bite and attached themselves to you.   It is important to check yourself, including children in your care, for ticks after a day out in areas of long grass etc.   Ticks should be removed as soon as possible using a good pair of tweezers or dedicated tick removal tool. Do not use vaseline or similar gel/fluid to remove a tick and do not attempt to burn a tick off your body. Not all ticks bite will pass on Lyme disease to humans, the most obvious symptom is a red "bulls eye" rash which can form unto 3 months after being bitten. Full advice can be found on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/conditions/lyme-disease.