Preparation, Awareness Key To Safety Outdoors
The call of the outdoors beckons millions of people each year. While hunting, camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities are enjoy- able, too many people em- bark on these adventures unprepared for potentially dangerous situations.
Planning is the key to an en- joyable and safe journey in the outdoors. There are sev- eral things that can be done to prevent, as well as prepare for, emergencies. Many out- door emergencies are pre- ventable. By learning a few skills, you can avoid potential hazards or prepare yourself in the event of a disaster. Fol- lowing is a list of basics to consider before you head out-
— Know the area. Study
topographical maps and fa- miliarize yourself with the area you are heading to as well as surrounding areas. Pack a compass and down- load a competent GPS app– but do not rely solely on your phone as you will likely not have good coverage.
— Know the elements within the area. Check with the local
wildlife department staff for a list of dangerous or venomous animals found in the area. Also obtain a list of any toxic plants that may be found there and familiarize yourself with these things.
— Know your limits. People in good physical condition will not tire as easily and will be able to travel farther and stay more alert. Fatigue and loss of alertness are major contrib-
utors to accidents in the out- doors.
Let others know where you are going. Wise hunters, an- glers, and hikers will leave in- formation with someone reliable. This information should include time of depar- ture, location or destination, and expected time of return, as well as any emergency numbers. If the deadline for return passes, this person can notify the proper authorities quickly.
— Assemble emergency supplies. Make sure that you have an adequate first aid kit.
Take along any medications you may need and any sup- plies that may be beneficial in the event of an accident. Also consider taking a whistle along in case you become lost–it will aid the search team in finding you.
— Check the weather fore- cast and dress appropriately. Smart outdoorsmen check the weather forecast and carry a radio with fresh batteries to monitor changes in weather.
— Be aware of hypothermia. It is extremely important to prevent hypothermia. Hy- pothermia means lowered body temperature. It can start in wet conditions including rain, snow, or sleet. Sweating or even humidity in the air has the potential to chill you. Dress for the weather and stay dry at all costs.
— Avoid sweating and fa- tigue. Set a steady pace. Everyone should match the
pace of the slowest person. The more energy you put out the higher your chances of sweating and losing energy reserves.
Don’t rely on a phone. Today, more people rely on their cell phone to get them around or call for help. You are less likely to have ade- quate cell coverage in the wilderness so make sure you have the aforementioned equipment with you.
Just remember the old adage: “An ounce of preven- tion is worth a pound of cure.”
James L. Cummins is execu- tive director of Wildlife Missis- sippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their website is www.wildlifemiss.org.