Saturday, June 28, 2008

Staying Safe in the Outdoors

Watching our local (Salt Lake City) news last night, they had a story on there that brought out some good points that should always be thought of when heading out into the outdoors.  The story listed here on KSL's Website discuss several issues that we should think about when heading outdoors.

The first big issue is always tell someone where you are going, when you plan to return and I add in there, who you will be with and what you will be driving so this can help assist in finding you if the unfortunate should happen.  If you have been in Canyoneering long enough and have heard some of the horror stories you are quite familiar with the story of Aron Rahlston.  He went into Blue John Canyon by himself, which is not a terrible thing, but he ended up pulling a boulder on top of his arm pinning it to the wall of the canyon.  The bad thing is now he is stuck, and he didn't tell anyone where he was.  No one ever found him in the canyon, he amputated his own arm and finished the canyon before he found the searchers himself.  He had been stuck of about a week and the searchers had no idea where he was at becuase he told no one. 

Of course I am a big fan of the SPOT Satellite messengerand you can read about this in another entry here in our Blog.  The SPOT has been a great device to have and carry, and I have seen KSL do another story during the winter with the device featured also.  This device is starting to prove it's worth.  It has only been on the market since November 2007 and already has a couple of saves to its record.  I use my device all the time I am out in the canyons.  I also take it on road trips, and send it with my wife to the grocery store.  Since we live in an area where cell service is sketchy at best, it is great to know that the SPOT can summon help not only in an emergency, but also for a blown tire, dead battery, blown engine and everything else.  The KSL story also shows an ACR Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) which is also a great device, but they are only used to summon the Search and Recsue for life saving situations.  The SPOT does require a $100 a year service contract like a cell phone might, the PLB does not.  The SPOT retails in the $150.00 range the PLB in the $600.00 range.  Once you purchase the units, they are yours, only the SPOT will have a continued service fee, but it is well worth the fee for the extra services that it buys.

Another unit that is mentioned in the story is a simple GPS unit.  Although these can't summon for help, they can help in many instances to keep you from getting lost.  They are great for marking the location of your vehicle, camp etc. so you can find the way back to it.  They are also great for marking way points, or points of interest along your hiking route.  This can also be done with the SPOT messenger and sent to your computer.  GPS units are much more affordable and have no yearly service to use them.

Something that was not mentioned in the story but that is also great to have a long is a first aid kit.  You do not need to have a huge one, depending on the types of activities you are doing and your first aid knowledge, you can get by many times with something simple.  The main key is to know what you have in the kit and how to use it.  Also make sure that you are carrying it with you.  It does no one any good if it is left in the car that you can't find again becuase you don't have a GPS with you.

I carry my first aid kits in Nalgene water bottles.  It helps to keep them air tight and water proof should I take a spill into some water.  Some items that I like to have with me are:  Bandaids, Ointment Cream (Climb ON!), individual servings of Ibuprofen, Blister Treatment, Allergy medications, Spray on Bandage w/ antisceptic, Super Glue for cuts, Duct tape for splints (I have a bit of duct tape wrapped around a lighter for storage), and a lighter for emergency fire (or matches in waterproof container).

Also something to never leave behind is water.  Take some extra water, and some snacks.  If something happens out there and you may be gone longer than expected, it is nice to have some extra supplies with you.  Some things that I keep on hand also that are small enough to fit anywhere and will come in handy in an emergency are:  Headlamp, Emergency Blanket(Space Blanket), Emergency Water Filter, Hand Warmers, and a plastic rain poncho.  Also for the food and hydration area some Electrolyte supplements.

Whatever you do this summer.  Be safe and have fun out there.  This is a great country that we live in and we have a lot of area to get out and explore.