Knowledge makes you safe
The big, green forests, glittering lakes, rivers and vast valleys are what attract visitors to Värmland and give the region its charm. Most of the population here live in the southern part of Värmland and in the valleys. The majority of Värmland trails run through forestland, often remote from populated areas. On certain walks, you will not encounter a single house that is occupied. You may not even meet another person on your entire walk. Unlike say the Alps, the forests and hills of Värmland are gently undulating. You do not need to be afraid of heights, falling from a great height or dramatic changes in the weather.
Serious accidents involving walkers are unusual in Värmland. Perhaps this is because most people in Sweden like to spend time in the forests and outdoors. Here is some advice on avoiding accidents and to ensure you have an enjoyable walking experience in Värmland.
Plan your walk
Check the weather forecast first. Choose your walk to suit the weather. Walking in the rain can be an enjoyable experience but the going can be heavier with a risk of tripping on slippery roots and wooden footbridges. Make sure you have appropriate rainwear and choose a rest point that is sheltered.
Expect to walk an estimated 2.5-3 km per hour. Not including breaks. Your walking pace will depend on the level of difficulty of the walk, the type of surface underfoot and your fitness. In Sweden, it is unusual to state a time you should allow for a walk. As such, take any time estimates with a pinch of salt and allow a margin of error.
Do not overestimate your fitness and capabilities. Walking on a nature trail is more strenuous than a smooth pedestrian walkway. Allow time for breaks and take a rest if you feel tired. Drink water. If you are walking as a group, take into consideration some of you might be fitter than others. There is never a good place to have a heart attack. However, it can be fatal in the forest, as it will take a long time to get medical assistance.
Walk with others, this is always safer. If an accident happens, other members of your party can give you first aid and get help if necessary. If you are walking alone, leave a message at the place you are staying and tell them when you have returned.
Värmland trails are clearly signposted. Bridges and footbridges are well maintained. You will not normally need a map or compass. However, we do recommend you take a map and compass, as a safety measure. Learn how to read maps and use a compass. GPS are popular and fun to use, but do not rely solely on GPS equipment. GPS and mobile coverage can be patchy, even near populated areas. If you go off trail, it is easy to get lost in the forest. Many animal trails suddenly disappear. Even experienced outdoor people admit how easy it is to become disoriented in a forest.
Teach your children to hug a tree if they get lost. It is better that they stay where they are rather than wander blindly in circles and become scared. Give each child a whistle.
If you are injured, lost or get caught unaware by the dark, it is important to keep warm and dry. We quickly lose body heat, even when it is not below zero outside. Take rainwear and spare warm clothes with you.
Thunderstorms occur in summer. Every year, someone in Sweden is killed by lightning. And others are injured. By international standards, however, personal injuries are rare. Thunder is more common the closer you get to the equator.
The Swedish National Electrical Safety Board has the following advice if you find yourself outside when thunder is about. Lightning usually strikes the highest object in the vicinity. Stay away from all high constructions (masts, posts, towers) therefore. A safe distance away is roughly the height of the construction. Avoid areas where forest and open land meet. Do not stand close to or under an individual tree or clumps of trees. A safe distance away is roughly the height of the tree or at least a few metres from the longest branches. Go into the forest if possible. Do not stand close to buildings or cars you cannot use for protection. Avoid metal fences and other constructions. Stay away from hilltops, beaches, ditches and other wet places. Do not paddle or swim. Do not hold onto metal or other conductors such as golf clubs and fishing rods.
In the event of an accident
Ring SOS Alarm: 112
This emergency number is to call for an ambulance, police and fire brigade.
Mobile coverage is not universal in Värmland, although it is better than a few years ago. Sometimes, you may only have to walk a few hundred metres to get a mobile signal, sometimes you need to walk much further. Make sure you always have enough battery life to call the emergency number.
If you do call the emergency number, state:
- Your name and how many people are injured.
- Explain where the injured person(s) is. State the name of the walking trail. State in distance or time, how far you are from the starting point or some other point that is easy for the emergency service to find.
- Explain what injuries you think have been suffered.