Cliffs, caves and minefields, the Pokemon Go craze is inadvertently leading people astray and into trouble. That’s why we’ve put together our best field guide to help you survive hunting Pokemon in the wild, along with a few crazy stories that have already occurred.
The new augmented reality game, Pokemon Go, has taken off like wildfire. In the last two weeks, the game has overtaken Google Maps in number of downloads, has more active daily users than Twitter, and has prompted a wave of people to take to the outdoors in the hunt for these virtual monsters. While the majority of users are sticking to urban areas, or parks within cities, where masses of Pokestops and Gyms are concentrated together, a number have already been tempted to see what Pokemon lie in wait in the wilderness outside the city gates.
If you’re thinking of heading into the wild, follow our advice to ensure you make it back with all your newly caught Pokemon.
Take a map and compass
Don’t get lost! If the area is new to you, and your only navigation tool is your phone, then you might want to take some of those old-school tools that can’t run out of battery. Having a map and compass could save you in that extreme situation when your powerbank runs dry, the usual cloudy UK sky is making your solar charger useless, and you can’t find your second battery.
Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “Another aspect of Pokémon Go is the game’s ability to eat your battery life. All the biggest battery-eating culprits are in action.
“If your phone is your only tool for navigating your way out of wherever you have found yourself, then you are in for trouble.”
Don’t know how to use ancient items like a map and compass? No problem, book onto one of our great value subsidised courses or watch our series of hill walking skills videos on BMC TV.
WATCH: How to take a compass bearing on BMC TV
Keep one eye on the ground
It’s not hard to see how engrossing the game is, especially if you’ve come across a rare Pokemon like a Dragonite! Make sure not to keep wandering aimlessly about while you’re battling to capture it, it’d be all too easy to stumble into trouble if you’re only focused on your phone.
If you’re in terrain that may contain steep drops, uneven ground, roads or waterways, make sure to stay put while you battle or to always keep one eye on where you’re stepping. Some avid Pokemon Trainers have already sustained unfortunate injuries from not paying attention – two men in California missed warning signs and fell off a cliff, while a few others have suffered road traffic accidents.
Heather says: “Gamers need to be aware if they are playing in an area that they are not familiar with – particularly in the mountains – that they should very much stay ‘switched on’ to where they are and how to get themselves home safely.”
Stick to paths
While the three steps radar bug has yet to be fixed, you’ve no way of knowing how close you are to encountering a certain Pokemon nearby; so it’s best to not go wildly careening off the path just because a Pikachu suddenly appeared on your radar.
Wandering off path could lead you into trouble in a number of ways: you could get lost, you might hurt yourself, you may be encroaching on private property, or there’s the possibility of disturbing wildlife – potentially dangerous animals too! Related to this advice is not to go searching for Pokemon in caves without any expertise, like a group of boys in Wiltshire thought was a good idea. For starters, there will likely be no mobile or GPS signal underground (which you need to play Pokemon Go) and you could end up getting very lost.
The final reason is that it creates additional erosion to the environment and the ecosystem, be that to vegetation (potentially rare), animals, or the ground itself. Our Access and Conservation Trust recently pioneered the Mend Our Mountains crowdfunding campaign that raised over £100,000 to help fix eroded footpaths – find out more here.
Pack an emergency kit
It’s essential hiking equipment and should be taken along if you’re going out for the day. What’s in it? Well, take a headtorch in case you get benighted, spare warm layers including socks, a first aid kit, extra food, a bothy or lightweight bivvy bag, and perhaps a spare compass.
We’ve got our hill walking ambassador, Chris Townsend, to talk you through it.
WATCH: What’s in Chris’s emergency kit on BMC TV
Pokemon Go stories UK and abroad
Finally, listen to the experts’ recommendations:
Don’t steal boats to hunt for Pokemon in the middle of a lake.
If you’re in Bosnia, be wary of wandering into areas that are still laden with landmines leftover from the war in the 1990s.
It’s never a good idea to call 999 to report ‘stolen Pokemon’.
And last, for now, try not to endanger your life by jumping into busy traffic while playing.
WATCH: The National Trust's 5 tips for searching for Pokemon