I am sure you have all heard the term, SAFETY FIRST! And what might I ask, have YOU done to ensure your safety while working at your chosen career? Outdoor professions are often high-risk occupations. Your risk level for injury or accident while climbing over rocks, wading up streams, monitoring wildlife is above average. If you are subject to being called upon to fight wildland fire, your injury risk goes up.
Our current reliance on high tech gear is actually quite dangerous. Natural resources occupations usually involve working in remote rural areas. Cell phone service may be spotty. GPS and mapping programs may be inaccurate. Every year people die in National Forests because they relied on their GPS units, not paper maps and common sense. HIgh tech gear is wonderful, and there are many great apps, but a paper map and bottle of water can save your life in remote locations.
My spouse has worked in forestry since 1962. In the passing decades he's stepped on rattlesnakes, fallen into bears dens (fortunately empty), been stuck in the snow and mud, fought wildfire multiple times, been stung by wasps, bees, bitten by ticks, broken the small bone in his leg in a fall and had to walk out of the woods, been confronted by wild animals, and so forth. Occupational hazards come with a forestry career. One of your jobs is to minimize the risks in outdoor work. Nobody can do this for you.
My spouse has been in numerous extreme hazard situations and come back safely because he continually practices safety and does not take shortcuts. Thus if he was hurt in the field, he had first aid kit in his vest. If his truck broke down, I knew where to look for him. If he was on the fire line he carried a fire shelter. Safety is all part of the job. Be the 'responsible' one in the group.
Your physical safety is pretty much up to you. One thing you can do is to make yourself into a safety asset. Take a course in first aid, particularly if you can get a course in wilderness first aid. Learn how to read a map, use a compass, and in general learn the basic skills every Scout, 4-H or FFA member knows. Learn situational awareness. Learn what to do when confronted by dangerous animals. Learn how to deal with natural disasters.
It is absolutely vital that anyone using equipment learn how to use that equipment safely. Even something as simple as carrying an axe up a mountain trail has a right and wrong way to do it. Learn from someone who really knows how to use equipment, preferably someone with an excellent safety record.
In addition to a good skill set, a good personal safety plan is also your responsibility. If you are going to be working alone in a remote area make sure someone reliable knows where you are supposed to be and when you'll be back. Theoretically, people working in the the woods should work in pairs. In reality, few agencies can afford to send two people into the field. But someone should know where you are everytime you go into the field.
Create an emergency pack and keep it in your transport vehicle. Carry critical items in your work vest or a small day pack. Don't know what you need? The links below will help you get organized.
If you live in a rural area, or a region with specific natural disaster hazards, have a plan for yourself AND your family. Be a leader! If your community doesn't have a disaster guide - create one. People survive best in groups.
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