Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Moving into the New Year, many outdoor oriented men and women spend increasingly more time in the outdoors.  It may be waterfowl hunting, wildlife watching, hiking, biking, and fishing.  Each of these has its own risks.  Preventing dangerous situations becomes a top priority.

Although it is tempting to enjoy the outdoors alone, it is not the safe way.  Enjoy the outdoors with a friend.  Simple actions such as telling someone where you are going and when you’re are coming back as well as watching weather for sudden changes are important.

Know the limits of your physical condition and do not press your luck.  Always carry a compass or G.P.S. unit and consult it regularly.  Know where you are at all times.

In sports where firearms are used, gun safety is a priority.  Always be aware of the direction in which the muzzle is pointed.  Not only view the distance from the weapon to the quarry, but also the area beyond it.  A good rule in waterfowl hunting is never to shoot a target when your gun barrel is pointing below the horizon.

Hunters must always be in control of their weapon.  In a boat or blind it is important to have the weapon in a secure rest with the muzzle always pointing in a safe direction.  If none is available, hold the gun tightly with the barrel pointed up and away from the boat, dogs and hunting companions.

When entering or leaving the boat, or blind, be sure the weapon is unloaded and cased.

Hiking is not normally considered to be a risky sport.  Each year many people are injured or killed while engaged in this activity.  If hiking on a roadway, always walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic.  If hiking in low light conditions it is wise to wear bright color clothing.  An inexpensive blaze orange vest is a good idea.  They are available where ever hunting gear is sold.  The orange color will not spook animals you may want to observe and still alert drivers to your presence.

For those hiking in off road areas, a cell phone is a good idea.  You never know when an emergency might happen.  One person in the group may have a medical emergency such as heart attack, broken leg, sprained ankle, etc.

It is a good idea to carry a whistle and a Space Blanket from camping sections of most stores.  The emergency signal with a whistle is three blasts in a row.  The Space Blanket is a foil sheet that can be wrapped around the body to keep warm until help arrives.

The whistle is a good idea for each member of your group, adult or child.  Affix it to the zipper of a coat.  It is vital that everyone understand that the whistle is to be used only in emergency situations.

It is important that children understand that anyone can become lost.  They should know to stay put in one location and keep blowing the three blasts until they are found.  Knowing help is coming aids them in dealing with the situation and not to panic.

Hikers need to pay attention to the trail conditions.  During winter and early spring, paths can become muddy and slippery.  It is easy for some one not paying attention to slide down a hill or from a rocky outcropping while observing the scenery.

A small first aid kit can be very helpful with less serious injuries.  Small cuts and injuries can be treated in the field making the trek back to the vehicle much less unpleasant.  Field treatment of a cut might also prevent infection which could cause more serious problems later.

Early season fishing is often some of the best fishing of the year.  But, the cold water temperatures can present life threatening situations for anglers who fall out of a boat.  Hypothermia is the sudden loss of core body temperature when suddenly dunked in cold water.  Always wear a personal floatation device (PFD.).  It will keep you afloat incase you are injured or too numb to swim.  Get out of the water and out of wet clothing as soon as possible.  If you are turning blue, shivering uncontrollably, then get medical attention right away.

The outdoors is a wonderful world to explore.  With some advance planning and care, it can also be a safe one.  Just be careful out there.




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  1. Pingback: BE CAREFUL OUT THERE IN WINTER | Don Gasaway's Blog

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