Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How to stay safe in the great outdoors

Summer trips to the great outdoors are rewarding but come with some specific challenges. How much you know about some of the dangers you might face? NYT has a Q&A with some useful tips: 

If you encounter a bear at a distance while hiking:
Slowly back away. If you encounter a bear at a distance, the National Park Services says to slowly back away. If you surprise one, do not run, as it may trigger a chase response from the animal.

If a bear charges toward you:
Stand your ground and use bear spray when the animal is 30 to 60 feet away. If a bear charges toward you, stand your ground and begin spraying when it is 30 to 60 feet away. Rangers at Yellowstone National Park recommend hiking with bear spray, a pepper spray that inhibits a bear’s ability to see, smell or breathe. Only when a bear makes contact should you play dead to show that you are not a threat. Fighting back during an attack only increases the danger of injury.

The following will help keep bears away from your campsite:
Properly storing all food and garbage. The American Bear Association recommends securing all scented items by hanging them at least 10 feet off the ground and five feet from a tree, as well as storing all food and garbage in sealed bags or airtight canisters.

If you encounter a mountain lion:
Wave your arms and make loud noises. According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, if you are attacked, do not run, but stand tall and open your coat or raise your arms to look big. Maintain eye contact, slowly wave your arms, speak firmly and throw items at the mountain lion if necessary. Normally, the cat will move on.

The best way to remove a tick from your skin is to:
Use tweezers to grab the tick as close as you can to your skin, then pull straight up and away from the skin. The Center for Disease Control recommends removing the attached tick as soon as you notice it by grasping it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pulling it straight out. says to not squeeze the tick, burn it with a match or cover it with Vaseline. Squeezing the tick’s body could release any toxins into your body.

After removing the tick, you should go to the doctor:
If you develop a red rash of any shape.
If you develop a fever or flulike symptoms. says that while a bull’s-eye rash does indicate Lyme disease, not everybody who has been infected gets one. You might develop a different rash or have no rash at all. If you have a rash of any kind or you develop flulike symptoms, WebMD suggests seeking medical assistance.

If you encounter a snake:
Stay calm and keep your distance. The University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation suggests leaving the snake alone and to not stand between it and bushes or other cover, as snakes will usually try to escape. A snake may also strike when startled, so giving it space is crucial.

If you are bitten by a snake:
Keep your distance from the snake and obtain medical care as soon as possible. WebMD says that any snakebite victim should go to a hospital emergency department unless the snake can be positively identified as nonvenomous by an expert. Even if the snake is nonvenomous, it is a good idea to seek professional wound care; you may need a tetanus booster.

There is more of a chance of dying from a shark attack than:
Thankfully, shark attacks are rare. According to, the chance of dying in a shark attack is 1 in 3.7 million.

If a shark attacks you:
Fight back by grabbing its eyes and gills. “The best thing to do is fight back. Grab at the eyes and gills, which are very sensitive. Punching the shark in the nose may help but is difficult to do in the water,” said Andrew P. Nosal of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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