Joey Carter, MD
Fall means a consistent (at last) break from the heat, and new outdoor pursuits that bring family and friends together for much more than just football tailgates. For many of us in South Alabama that means the great outdoors, with traditions from camping to kayaking, and shooting sports from wing birds to large game. No matter if your fall colors are the golden leaves of a campground or a blaze orange hunter’s safety vest, keep these tips in mind to enjoy the great outdoors safely.
Practice good tick and mosquito protection. Ticks are abundant and carry several diseases that can wreak long-term havoc on your health. Protective clothing and permethrin are the best way to prevent tick bites. Mosquitos (West Nile Virus) and Yellow Flies can lead to irritating bites or even infection. Avoid dark colors and be extra cautious during early evening hours when these annoying pests are looking for dinner.
Strength training and conditioning will help you enjoy your activities longer, and reduce the risk of tendinitis, muscle strains and sprains. Nothing downs a camping or hunting trip like an unexpected injury. Ankle sprains and Achilles Tendon injuries can be prevented with supportive boots and shoe wear.
Know Your Location
Always be aware of your location and have a good idea of the terrain ahead. Several smart phone apps are designed for hiking, hunting, or fishing adventures to prevent getting lost, find territories to explore, or meet up with companions. Try All Trails, Gaia GPS, or Cairn – which notifies your safety circle if you’re overdue for return. SkyView Lite is a free app that helps identify planets, stars, and constellations in the night sky. Don’t forget a good forecast app (like Accuweather) and enable notifications to avoid sudden threatening weather. More than any safety tool, smartphones have become invaluable as a lifeline to emergency personnel when things go wrong.
Tree Stand Safety
If you are using a tree stand for hunting or observation, make sure the stand, the chosen tree, and your safety harness are all in safe working order. Falls from tree stands are the #1 injury to hunters. While statistically safer than other sports from football to baseball or soccer, studies find 1 of 20 hunters will sustain an injury demanding medical attention during their lifetime. Stay clipped into a safety rope and not just when seated.
Ride Smart and Share the Road
Four-wheelers and side by sides are only as safe as the driver and occupants allow them to be. Safety depends on training, the use of appropriate clothing and headgear, and the avoidance of alcohol under any condition. Ride smart and make practical decisions. More and more hunters take e-Bikes to the woods. Share the woods – and the road – safely.
Alabama is blessed with nearly two dozen beautiful state parks and caverns, not to mention rivers and trails from Weeks Bay to Mt. Cheaha. Get out there and enjoy – safely!
Dr. Joey Carter is a Board-Certified orthopaedic surgeon and sees patients with needs in general orthopedics, arthroscopy, and fracture care. You’ll find him in a dove blind, tree stand, competing in triathlons, practicing jujitsu, or weightlifting in his free time.