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Front Page » May 23, 2002 » Sports » Outdoor mishaps can be easily avoided
Published 4,884 days ago

Outdoor mishaps can be easily avoided

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As one of the most traveled weekends approaches, those who will be participating in outdoor activities need to be reminded of safety tips that may save lives. Often times outdoor adventures which are scheduled for a daytime activity turns into an overnight adventure. The following safety rules will provide valuable survival tips.

•Always let someone know where the adventure is planned to take place and when the expected time of return is. If plans change from one area to another, tell someone. Knowing where to begin a search will significantly reduce the time it will take the searchers to locate and rescue a lost person.

•Never travel alone. Many of the illnesses that outdoors users experience (hypothermia and frostbite in particular) occur without the victim ever becoming aware of their onset. Accidents do happen in the outdoors that lead to injury. In an emergency, the assistance of a partner to care for the victim and then go for help, could save a life.

•Take along two compasses and a map of the area that will be visited. Also know how to use them. Use one compass to navigate with.

The second compass serves two purposes. It can be used if the primary compass is lost or broken and secondly, many panicked people, thinking their compasses are broken, frequently do not believe a single compass when the direction back to camp indicated by the compass differs from the direction their instincts tell them is the correct heading to follow. Two compasses both pointing in the same direction, increases the chances that the compasses will be believed and follow the correct heading back to camp or to one of the pre-selected boundaries.

•Wear clothing that will keep the body warm and dry. Loss of body heat because of exposure to the elements, especially wind, precipitation and low temperatures must be prevented in a survival situation or hypothermia could result. Remember the weather can change very quickly. Select clothing that will be warm and dry if forced to spend an unexpected night out.

Layers work best. The inner most layer must move perspiration (water) away from the skin. The next layer should be the insulation layer which must trap dead air around the body and insulate from the cold. The outermost layer of clothing must protect from wind and precipitation. The head and neck are the most critical areas of the body to protect. Keep them covered.

Unprotected hands are easily injured and quickly loose their dexterity when exposed to cold temperatures. Stiff fingers make it difficult to strike a match, aim a signal mirror, or tie a knot. Carry mittens and a pair of light leather gloves. Also carry extra clothing to put on when the weather deteriorates. Dress to survive not to arrive.

•Carry a survival kit containing several reliable ways to start a fire. This kit should contain waterproof, windproof matches, cigarette lighter, metal match container, waterproof, wind proof shelter material, a whistle and a signal mirror. Whenever enjoying the outdoors, always take a survival kit.

•Plan the outing so that the return to camp or a vehicle will be before it gets dark. Always carry a flashlight or two so that a safe return after dark will be possible if it becomes necessary.

•Drink a minimum of three to four quarts of water per day. The lack of water seriously reduces the bodies ability to function properly, especially its ability to stay warm, and greatly increases the possibility of other accidents occurring.

•Practice survival skills before they are needed in an emergency. Learn how to build a fire using the equipment that is carried in the survival kit. Practice erecting an emergency shelter. Experiment with the signal mirror until a beam of sunlight is quickly reflect to any point on the horizon. Do not count on somebody else being around when in trouble and need help.

•If stranded without shelter, one must seek refuge from the elements. In most situations, protection from the rain, snow, wind and low temperatures will be the most immediate need. While fires will be beneficial, it may not be necessary if adequate clothing is being worn.

Never sleep directly on the ground or snow. Instead, build a thick layer of boughs, or leaves pine needles to sleep which will insulate the body from the ground.

These simple tips, when used properly, can save lives. Whenever enjoying the outdoors, one not always knows the outcome of the adventure and these tips just might be the key to survival.

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May 23, 2002
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