You know sometimes it seems like we’re such a safety conscious society that we take all the fun out of everything, but when it comes to looking at land, the reality is that there are potentially dangerous (or at least uncomfortable) situations that can occur. The good news is that a few simple steps can make for a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience. Here are a few safety issues to keep in mind when heading to the woods to look at land.
Make sure that somebody knows where you are going and who you are going with. Give them a map with specific locations, provide names and phone numbers of anyone going with you, and provide an approximate time for your return. And, always carry a cell phone with you. Cell coverage is often spotty in rural areas, so you may not always be able to make a call from the woods, but cell coverage or not, I can guarantee that you won’t make a call in the woods from a cell phone you left in your truck.
Don’t Get Lost. Carry a compass with you and know how to use it. Handheld GPS systems are good to have, but batteries can go dead in a GPS. Batteries never go dead in a compass. The only thing worse than getting lost in the woods is spending the night in the woods because you got lost in the woods, and didn’t have a compass to help get you out. Always carry a compass.
Watch out for Creepy Crawlies. As alluring, wonderful, and peaceful as the woods are, you need to be aware that there are things in the woods that bite. Things like snakes and ticks and chiggers. If you don’t know what chiggers are, let me enlighten you. Chiggers are almost invisible red bugs that run in packs of about 50 to 100. At least that is how many usually get on me. Ticks, on the other hand, usually only come one or two at a time, but they can carry some pretty nasty diseases, and it’s best to not get them on you. The solution is pretty simple. Always use insect repellant. Spray your arms, spray the back of your neck, spray your ankles, and spray it around your waist, even spray your clothes. That way you’ll lessen the chance of having a lot of scratchy places when you come out of the woods.
Don’t get snake bit. Remember this – most snakes are harmless, some snakes are poisonous, and any snake will bite you if you get close enough. The easiest way to avoid the poisonous snakes is to avoid all snakes. There are a few simple “snake” rules I follow when walking in the woods. Buy some snake chaps and wear them when in the woods. Don’t step if you can’t see what you’re stepping on. If you are in doubt about whether you should walk into a snaky looking area, don’t go OR send your buddy in first to walk around and check it out.
Pay attention to the road. You should never take a two wheel drive vehicle on a four wheel drive road. For some roads, even four wheel drive isn’t enough. I have gotten my truck stuck before in places where I thought I had plenty of vehicle to get in and out. If you don’t think your vehicle will make it down a road (and back), don’t go….or walk. It’s much better to walk in, walk out, be a little bit sweaty, get in your car, and drive home than it is to drive in, get stuck, walk out, be sweaty, and still have a stuck vehicle to go dig out of the woods.
You need to be in good shape. When looking at land, you can’t see everything you need to see and find out the things you need to know from a car window. Sometimes you have to walk, so make sure that you’re in good enough shape to do it. If you struggle walking up a couple of flights of stairs, your going to struggle walking up a steep hill. Take some time to get in shape before you head to Mother Nature’s aerobics class.