The Lake District Mountain Rescue Association has spoken out to issue an urgent warning to the public after two walkers from Manchester were rescued from Scafell Pike during a blizzard earlier this week.
The two fell walkers from Manchester, who were described as being “unprepared”, had to be rescued after getting lost on England’s highest mountain during a blizzard conditions and were eventually brought to safety in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Mountain rescuers spent eight hours looking for the men on the Lake District fell, and warned that if they hadn’t been found, it’s likely they would have died.
Richard Warren – Chair of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association – was part of the rescue team, and explained to the MEN that: “The two lads from Manchester hadn’t done the preparation [as] they hadn’t got the right clothing, they had no waterproofs.
“It was blizzard conditions. They had no compass, no torches [and] they weren’t even sure where they had parked their car.
“They were very grateful that we found them, but it was very lucky that we did [because] we had great difficulty contacting them on their mobile phone and if we hadn’t found them, they would have had to spend the night on the hill in sub-zero blizzard conditions and then it would have been a very serious, life-threatening situation.
“But we did what we always do and got them warm, put some waterproof clothing on them and took them back to the road where they got a taxi back to their car in Keswick.”
With cases such as this happening in significant numbers, the Lake District Mountain Rescue Association has urged day trippers to properly plan their walks after what was described as an “absolutely chaotic” Christmas period.
Richard Warren said his teams were called out a record 680 times in 2021, and the start of 2022 had been “just as busy”.
Mr Warren said there had been two callouts on Christmas Day in the Lake District, and there had been a “very sad end to the year” when a man died after a medical episode on Skiddaw on New Year’s Eve.
In the first four days days of 2022, there were another 19 call-outs.
Mr Warren said lockdown has meant many inexperienced walkers are coming to The Lakes for the first time and heading to the fells without proper gear or knowledge, so rescue teams are now pleading with people to check weather forecasts and whether they have the right gear before they take to the mountains.
“We are trying to get the message out about the importance of preparation,” Mr Warren said.
“A lot of rescues are avoidable because people get lost with no map, compass or torch [so] we really we want people to start thinking about what they are doing, when they are doing it and to check the weather.”
All Lake District rescue teams are manned by volunteers and rely on donations from the public.
Mr Warren told the BBC that he was “extremely proud” of the all the volunteers at the 12 rescue teams in Cumbria, and also praised all those who make donations to keep the teams running – with about £750,000 a year needed across all the Cumbria teams.
“We do it unpaid,” he said.
“Mountain rescuers don’t want to be paid. They do it because they love the mountains and love helping people.”
You’ll soon be able to leave WhatsApp group chats without anyone finding out
In what is sure to be music to the ears of those sick of having irrelevant memes sent to them every 30 seconds by people you barely know, you’ll soon be able to leave WhatsApp group chats without anyone finding out.
Whether it’s a group made up of extended family members you see only see twice a year, colleagues at work, mutual friends you’re not really that keen on, or people you only met one time because you were at the same pre-drinks together before a night out, most of us are part of a WhatsApp group chat we’d rather not be.
The type of group chat you’re not really sure how you became a part of, and the type of chat you’ve got no clue how to politely leave.
And a big part of the reason most of us can’t bring ourselves to leave those groups is because, the second you do, a little notification pops-up at the bottom of the chat to notify everyone else that you have “left” – which can, understandably, be pretty awkward and embarrassing.
Luckily though, WhatsApp and Mark Zuckerberg – who is chief executive of the messaging service’s parent company, Meta – is soon to introduce a handful of new changes designed with the aim of making written messages as “secure as face-to-face conversations”, and one of those changes is allowing people to leave group chats without other members in the group finding out.
The company says that now only administrators of the group will receive a notification to inform them a member has exited the chat.
On top of that somewhat life-saving change, the other changes being introduced will allow people to control who can see when they are online, and also prevent screenshots being taken by other users of auto-deleting ‘View Once’ messages.
At present, the messaging service broadcasts to all contacts of a user when they are online and have the app open, but now, this is something that users will be able to choose to share with others.
WhatsApp had also previously-warned users to “only send photos or videos with ‘View Once’ media enabled to trusted individuals”, as it was possible to take a screenshot or screen recording of the message before it disappeared – but now, the act of taking screenshots will be prohibited.
In his post announcing the new WhatsApp updates, Mr Zuckerberg explained that the company will “keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”
Meta has stated on a number of occasions that it believes end-to-end encryption is the only way to ensure users are able to message each other without a third party eavesdropping on them.
Mr Zuckerberg announced his plans to transform privacy on WhatsApp in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal back in 2019, and made it impossible for Meta itself to read the content of messages that users share, which is similar to how it cannot access the content of WhatsApp messages.
However, these changes have not yet been implemented across Meta’s other platforms.
“We believe WhatsApp is the most secure place to have a private conversation,” added Ami Vora – Head of Product at WhatsApp.
“And to spread the word about these new features, we’re also kicking off a global campaign, starting with the UK and India, to educate people about how we work to protect their private conversations on WhatsApp.”