As the berry and mushroom seasons commence, more individuals are setting foot into the vast Finnish forests. The Voluntary Rescue Service (Vapepa) coordinated by the Finnish Red Cross (Suomen Punainen Risti SPR) offers essential tips to prevent getting lost and ensuring safety.
Increasing Forest Visitors and Rescues
With the berry and mushroom seasons going strong, there's an uptick in the number of people venturing into the woods. Correspondingly, Vapepa has noticed an increase in search and rescue operations. Last year, the service was mobilized over 200 times to assist authorities in locating missing persons. This summer, the figure has already surpassed 50 instances, with almost daily alerts.
Key Measures: Preparation and Calmness
Before venturing into the forest, it's vital to inform someone familiar about your intended route, destination, and the duration of your stay. It's also beneficial to study your route meticulously before embarking. Take your risks when you enjoy online games, but in the forest and with nature everything should be predictable.
However, in the unfortunate event of realizing you're lost, Vapepa's preparedness coordinator, Arsi Veikkolainen, emphasizes the importance of staying calm. He advises against wandering aimlessly, which could exacerbate the situation. Instead, one should attempt to locate themselves using map applications, sites and notable landmarks.
"If the right path remains elusive, it's essential to seek help promptly, for instance, via the 112 application. Many hesitate unnecessarily before making that crucial call," Veikkolainen notes.
Essentials for the Forest Journey
For those planning forest excursions, Vapepa recommends packing the following:
- Warm clothing suitable for the evening or night temperatures.
- Brightly colored attire, which significantly assists during search operations.
- An emergency space blanket: Lightweight and warm, it also shields from rain and can be used as a seating pad.
- A power backup for electronic devices.
- Ensure a pre-loaded 112 application on your phone, which can pinpoint an individual's exact location during emergencies.
- A map application. However, users should familiarize themselves with its functionalities before setting out.
- Traditional tools like a paper map, compass, ignition equipment, a knife, and enough food to last a potential extended period in the forest.
Voluntary Rescue Service (Vapepa)
Vapepa boasts over 12,000 trained volunteers who support authorities annually in various rescue situations throughout Finland. Apart from searching for missing individuals, their tasks include providing emotional support, traffic management, and assisting in evacuations during accidents and crisis scenarios.
Finnish Red Cross (Suomen Punainen Risti SPR)
One of Finland's largest civic organizations, the Finnish Red Cross has a mission to aid those in dire need, both domestically and abroad. The organization is dedicated to assisting during disasters and accidents while also promoting preparedness, health, mutual care, and upholding humanity.