With summer on top of us and the high temps baking this short fat guy (did I mention I melt above 70 degrees?), it is a good time to keep some safety tips in mind while enjoy the great outdoors in Nebraska.
The sun – personally I am not a huge fan of sunshine. This recent bout of cloudy rainy weather works for me. But since most of us must work in the sun…use some common sense for your skin. The sun is a great source of Vitamin D but too much of a good thing can be dangerous. For long periods of exposure (several hours daily) I like a SPF of 30 or more for total sun block. Lower levels such as 15 will still allow a burn but it just takes longer.
Mosquitoes - these things have a purpose I am sure but I hate em’! With recent issues with diseases from these critters, it is more important than ever to protect yourself from their pesky bites. For sprays – it is hard to beat good old deet. I know it is not the best thing for your skin but most of us don’t wear it enough to be a huge issue. At 30% it really begins to shake off mosquitoes. The heavier rates of 40% or more work great in heavy mosquito areas but I like to spray the heavier rates on my clothes and leave the lighter rates on my skin. There are a lot of “softer” compounds out there but I have found nothing to work as well as deet which is found in Outdoorsman’s Off, Deep Woods Off, Cutters and other blends. Also, I am a firm believer in the Thermacell units. They work without th mess of sprays and the dangers they bring!
Ticks & Chiggers - see mosquitoes – the same sprays work with deet being great for ticks. I start by spraying my calves and socks. I then pull my pant leg down and spray my pants. This has reduced 95% of my tick bites. For travel in heavy infested (such as when turkey hunting or hiking in fields) I also spray my torso, arms, neck, hair, hat, etc. I try to avoid spraying my face unless necessary.
Dehydration - Over 75% of our body is water! Lose too much of it without replenishing and your in trouble. Signs of dehydration include excessive sweating or lack of sweating when you should be, dry mouth, headache, weakness, nausea, dizzy…about like you feel when you wake up each morning ! Drink lots of fluids when working outdoors in the heat. Sport drinks are absolutely awesome in replenishing electrolytes you lose through sweat. Once you start feeling symptoms, unless you enjoy heat stroke, you need to get the person (or yourself) in the shade, cooled off, hydrated, etc. If you find your friend is not sweating, refusing water, etc. these are warning bells that you need to act on!
Navigation - Hard to believe you could get lost in Nebraska but it happens every year. I am a true believe of GPS systems but I also think outdoorsmen and women should learn to use a compass. I bet even your cell phone has this application (along with GPS) that will keep you a well known dot on the map throughout your travels. For GPS make sure you have extra batteries and still make sure you use your compass in the tall and uncut such as the Pine Ridge country. Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
Snakes – Nebraska has four kinds of poisonous snakes — the prairie rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, western massasauga (a small rattlesnake), and copperhead. The prairie rattlesnake is found in the western two-thirds of Nebraska and the other three in the southeastern corner. A good walking stick is hard to beat for this application (previous blog)! Key ID characteristics of poisonous snakes include:
1. Blotched marks – generally any snake with lengthwise lines are non-poisonous
2. Triangular shaped head
3. Rattle – keep in mind the non-poisonous bull snake can do a good job of mimicking a rattler by curling up and rattling its tail.
For more info on snakes visit http://snr.unl.edu/herpneb/snake/Poisonsnakes1.html
Sasquatch – Really hard to avoid this critter. If he finds you the best thing to do is lie in the fetal position and sing the Love Boat theme song. Actually, “I’m a Little Tea Cup” with animation has shown some degree of effectiveness. Knowing how to avoid bigfoot is the best idea all together. Look for key sign such as a big hairy ape or large man like tracks size 20 or larger?
Just use some common sense and you will enjoy the outdoors each outing. In my opinion there is more danger going to a movie than a camping trip! Did I mention Sasquatch?
Get Em’ Out There