INFORMATION FOR PEOPLE JOINING THE FIELD MEETINGS OF THE ESSEX FIELD CLUB
- If you wish to join an Essex Field Club Field Meeting please confirm that you want to attend by telephoning or emailing the leader a few days beforehand and checking all details. You should also tell the leader if you later decide not to attend (so the group are not kept waiting for you needlessly), or if you have to leave a meeting early (so they know you are not lost or injured).
- The Essex Field Club considers the health and safety of participants in their events to be a high priority. You are asked to remember that you have some duty of care for your own safety and that of others during a meeting. At the start of each meeting the leader will brief you about any particular hazards of the site known to them; please make sure you listen.
- Do not attempt a walk unless you are fit and able to do so. Walks often cover several miles and you must expect at least the kind of hazards you would encounter on any public footpath. If in doubt, ask the meeting leader when booking (see note 1).
- EFC Field Meetings, unless otherwise stated, are led by members working in an amateur and volunteer capacity on behalf of fellow members and others in the group. You should provide basic medical and first aid supplies for your own use. Meeting leaders are not expected to administer first aid, or to provide first aid equipment.
- On all meetings which include a picnic, we recommend that you bring your own wipes or water with you to clean your hands before eating. A plastic bag for sitting on can be helpful, and later used to carry waste home.
- If you have a particular condition that may give rise to a medical emergency during a meeting eg allergy to insect stings, blackouts, pacemaker etc, be sure to contact the meeting leader at least 2 days beforehand to enquire if there might be a problem for you during the meeting (See note 1). You should not assume that mobile phone contact to emergency services will be available as meetings often take place out of range of a mobile phone.
- Please remember that some diseases should be considered to be always present in the British countryside. It may not be possible to protect yourself against all infections, but some of the more dangerous can be avoided by basic care and hygiene:
- (i) Tetanus is a soil borne disease that is probably present in most areas. Be sure that your tetanus immunisation is kept up to date. Other precautions include keeping sores or wounds well covered in the countryside.
- (ii) Weil’s disease is associated with rats and their urine. The disease may enter the body through any open wound or body opening in contact with a rat or substance contaminated by their urine, especially infected water. Avoid allowing any open wound or orifice to come into contact with water in the countryside. Always wash your hands before a meal (see note 5). If you develop flu-like symptoms within a week or so of a meeting contact your G.P. very soon.
- (iii) Lyme disease or Bannworth’s Syndrome is carried by Ixodid ticks that have usually been feeding on deer. Deer are present in many parts of Essex. If you discover a tick on your body after a visit to the countryside, remove it within 12 hours using fingernails or tweezers (it takes 24 hours at least for the tick to bury its head in your skin, so within 12 hours it can just be picked off), or seek the advice of your G.P. It is best to keep the risks low by wearing long trousers and tucking trouser-bottoms into thick socks.
- Cliffs in Essex can be dangerous because of their instability and potential to collapse. Keep well away from cliff top edges and the foot of cliffs. Geology trips have extra hazards. Visits to tidal areas may relate to the tide times, and extra hazards can be reduced by staying very close to the leader. Wetlands and thick woodland pose other hazards. Be guided by the meeting leader who will have local knowledge of these hazards. If in doubt, please ask the meeting leader when booking (see note 1).
- Please draw the meeting leader’s attention to any member of the group who is in distress or failing to keep up.
- Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Stout shoes are a minimum requirement for all walks; walking boots are often better. Get the weather forecast before you set out and anticipate changes. Please wear appropriate clothing and accessories for seasonal weather, both for hot days and cold ones. If in doubt, ask the meeting leader when booking (see note 1).
- Children of all ages are very welcome to any field meeting, but please will those under 16 bring an adult too.
- Toilets and other facilities are not usually available, but the leader will point out facilities where they exist.
- Dogs, except guide dogs, are not permitted unless by prior arrangement.