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Written By Joshua VanBrakle.

Posted on May 3rd, 2016.

Tagged with Safety.

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The outdoors can be a source of immense mental and physical health benefits, but they can also cause injury and illness if you aren’t careful. In honor of National Safety Month, here are a few safety tips for when you head out into nature.

June is National Safety Month, so for this week’s blog, I thought I’d touch on staying safe in the woods. The outdoors can be a source of immense mental and physical health benefits, but they can also cause injury and illness if we’re not careful. With that in mind, here are a few safety tips for when you head out into nature:

Watch out for ticks

Perhaps the greatest risk from being outdoors (at least in the northeastern US) comes from the tiny deer tick and its ability to spread Lyme disease. The CDC estimates that as many as 300,000 Americans get infected with Lyme every year, and both Lyme and ticks have spread dramatically over the past decade. You can get Lyme any time ticks are active (which is whenever the temperature is above freezing), but historically, June and July are by far the worst months. Before you go outside, check out these MyWoodlot activities devoted to ticks and tick disease prevention.

Look out above

Widow-makers are rotten trees or broken limbs suspended in another tree. They can fall without warning, especially on windy days, so keep an eye out for them overhead as you travel or camp in the woods. This MyWoodlot activity will help you recognize widow-makers.

Know your poisonous plants

Many plants cause skin irritation. This MyWoodlot activity will help you learn to identify and avoid touching them.

Give wildlife some space

Human-wildlife encounters are extremely rare, and the few that occur are almost always the human’s fault. Never feed or approach a wild animal, and be aware of best practices for what to do if one approaches you. This MyWoodlot activity will help you avoid wildlife encounters.

Be prepared

It’s a Scout motto for a reason. When out in the woods, make sure you have essential gear like a map, food, and plenty of water. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. A little planning ahead of time can help keep you safe in an emergency.

Use equipment responsibly

Equipment like ATVs and chainsaws can be remarkably helpful around your land, but they can also be dangerous. Even if you’ve been using these machines for decades, it’s worth refreshing yourself on ATV and chainsaw safety to make sure you aren’t making careless mistakes. This MyWoodlot activity has helpful resources about chainsaw safety, while this link refers to safe ATV use.

Watch the weather

The US has more than 70,000 wildfires and 100,000 thunderstorms every year. Check the weather ahead of time and stay indoors if storms or red flag warnings are in the forecast. Check out this MyWoodlot activity about dangerous weather conditions.


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