Personal safety can mean different things to different people. You will prepare differently if you are setting off in the back country of the west over hitting the local wood lots or streams in the Midwest. The key is preparing for what Murph can and will throw your way.
The Outdoor Blogger Network has given a writing prompt concerning scary situations and preparing for them. A simple late fall trip to a local trout stream could turn bad if you slip and break something to the point you are no longer ambulatory. If no one knows where you are and you have no means to signal to people where you are, you just may well turn into turtle food.
I racked my brain for times where I felt that little bit of being scared during an outing. I was unable to think of anytime it has happened. I would like to think that my prepping and minimizing risk in the field has prevented the situation from getting to that point. It is more likely that Nimrod is just not smart enough to realize the peril of the situation and trudged through it until I was back safely. Either way I figured I could share a few things I do to ensure my safety or at the very least proper recovery of my body if any bad things happen.
As you know, Nimrod spends the majority of time in the rural areas of south west Michigan. Even the largest track of land is crossed with trails and two tracks. Walk in a straight line long enough you WILL hit a road. Walk in circles long enough you will be disoriented and dizzy, trust me I know. So my prepping is probably woefully inadequate for true wilderness outings.
Always carry a compass or GPS. If your me you carry both. I always carry a sharp knife, a sharpening stone, a means of defense and a means of communication (i.e. cell phone or 2-way radio). In cold months I include strike anywhere matches, air activated hand warmers, change of socks/gloves and winter headgear. You never know who or what you may stumble upon; or what might stumble upon you. Not everyone is your friend and like it or not there are people out there who want to do you harm. You may also come across someone who needs your assistance to seek medical help. Without a way to call you may not be of much help for their survival.
Building redundancy into your plan will save you when the time comes to enact your preps. As I heard several times in the military “Two is one, one is none.” Murph will ensure that things will break and batteries will die. Always when you need them the most.
Have a plan and tell the plan to someone. Before I set out on an adventure I tell Yoop the rough idea of where I am going and when I plan on getting back. I have a map and mark on it where I plan to be. Plans change and you may not be on the exact ridge you said but if the worst happens, this will shrink the search area considerably. If there are major changes I will call her on my cell phone and describe the new area of operations.
This may seem like overkill but I feel I owe it to Yoop and the monsters. Nimrod gets time to wander about Gods creation but my true duty is to my family. I see it like wearing a safety harness when in a tree stand. It tilts the odds in my favor if Murph decides to join me on the adventure.
I want to give my thoughts on carrying a cell phone with you while you’re out in a non wilderness setting. I have read about people who head off the pavement and do not want to be bothered. No doubt one reason we seek to escape the concrete jungle war zone is to get away from the annoyances of day to day life. However most don’t think it through.
If you follow my plan, when you fail to return at the designated time someone will know something might be up. Will they head out looking for you? Will they just try to call? Will they call for assistance from local law enforcement or fire service personnel? All depends on the person and what plans you have worked out.
To pay the bills Nimrod has worked in the 911 industry for around 5 years. I am far from an expert on the technical aspect cell phones/towers/etc but I will share what I have found out answering the call when it rings.
We are not talk about a 911 call from your phone. Most of the time the information will come in relatively easily when the call is made directly. If I get a call saying your late; they think something has happened; getting a pinpoint location if your phone is powered off is not likely. I won’t say it can’t happen but will say I have never been able to get a pin point location when the phone is off. This will turn the search into a large area, that will take time to complete. We have a motto where I work. “Dispatchers save seconds, seconds save lives.” Often time isn’t critical. However the one time it is could make a difference in your survival to hunt or fish or hike or bird watch or ??? or ??? or ???. You get the idea.
Help us help you. If you don’t want to be bothered in the field, turn your phone on silent not off. Have a plan. Tell someone where you are going to be and when you will be back. If your plans change let your contact know and update them on what changes are being made. These are basic ideas and may seem like over kill when your wandering the woodlots in the Midwest but your life may depend on how prepared you are.
After years and years of dealing with Murphs antics I like to think I have learned how to deal with problems with they arise. Whether it is planning ahead of time or having what I need to get to safety. We hope our experience and planning can help you stay safe when you are out enjoying Gods wonderful creation.
Stay safe, have fun and take lots of pictures!