Outdoor Safety

Posted: July 7, 2014

Forest landowners tend to be an active group. How safe are we in the woods, at home, and with our health in general?

By Susan Benedict, PA Tree Farm Committee Chair

Recently our adult son had a serious ATV accident. By the grace of God and the many prayers on his behalf our son will, with some time, be 100%. In my conversations with people after the accident, I am often asked if he was wearing a helmet. The answer is no, and he was fortunate to survive.

This experience got me thinking about safety in general. We forest landowners tend to be an active group. How safe are we in the woods, at home, and with our health in general?

Some safety measures are easy to figure out: helmets when riding ATVs; chaps, a helmet, and eye protection when working with a chainsaw. Others are nearly as easy, for example snake chaps, safe gun handling practices and eye and hearing protection when shooting – even plinking with 22s. We have food safety BMPs, kitchen safety BMPs, and farm and forestry equipment safety practices. Do we follow those?

Some additional measures are needed as we age. For instance throw rugs – a favorite of mine because I can toss them when they get too stained – are one of the leading causes of falls at home. When we hear that someone sustained an injury in a home fall, we don’t normally ask if they had removed all their throw rugs, but maybe we should. Bathroom falls are another source of accidents in the home. We should all take a look at our bathrooms and install grab bars and anti-slip materials and eliminate other obvious hazards. Secure handrails and proper lighting in halls and stairwells are also important to our safety.

One of the most important and sadly overlooked set of safety measures applies to our physical health. Each of us should have regular medical and dental care, and we should follow our doctor’s and dentist’s suggestions. Did you know that gum disease can be a factor in heart disease? We should be maintaining a healthy weight and striving to be both mentally and physically active. We should also be sensitive to those around us who may need a gentle nudge to take measures to insure their health and safety. A good way to boost your mental activity is to serve on a forestry-related committee. Local landowner associations, PA Forest Stewards, PA Tree Farm Committee, Extension Boards, and others are always looking for volunteers. Get involved and get active!

I have resolved to take a look at my outdoor safety practices, my physical surroundings, indoors and out, and my health to make some much needed improvements. I invite all of you to join me. The next generation needs us around for as long as possible to impart our “wisdom;” let’s make sure we are there for them.