Enjoy fall — safely
Seasonal tips to keep you active and healthy outdoors
By Beth Kaszuba
As we transition from summer to fall, it can be tempting to jump right into new activities, like a kid leaping into a pile of leaves. But before you get a running start, a few safety hints can keep your autumn fun from being hampered by an accident or injury.
1. Hike with a helper.
Fall is a beautiful time to hit the trails, but the same foliage that adds to the views can make surfaces slippery. Blankets of leaves can also hide rocks and ruts that can trip you up or twist your ankle.
You might want to grab a walking stick or, better yet, invest in a set of hiking poles. Not only will you gain stability, you’ll also be able to probe the ground ahead to avoid unwanted surprises — like a concealed animal burrow.
And if you haven’t been working those core muscles, hiking helps to get them in shape. A strong core aids balance and stability, which is a good thing anytime.
2. Insects? They’re still out there.
Just because the leaves are changing colors and the air is a bit cooler doesn’t mean pests like mosquitoes and ticks are gone.
Mosquito “season” doesn’t officially end until the first frost, so if you’re headed outdoors before then, take precautions. And ticks, which can spread illnesses like Lyme disease, continue to be active in autumn.
Protect yourself by:
- Staying on trails and avoiding overgrown areas
- Wearing long pants, even if it’s warm
- Applying insect repellent to your skin and clothes
- Doing a tick check afterward
If you find a tick attached to your skin, use tweezers to remove it, then thoroughly wash the area and your hands with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.
Not every tick carries Lyme disease, but if you develop a fever or rash within several weeks, contact your doctor.
3. Heart health. It’s part of safe hunting.
If you’re a hunter, you know all about handling firearms, wearing the right clothing and identifying your target. But as you put that knowledge into action this fall, consider your health and fitness levels, too.
If you’ve been inactive lately, don’t overdo it outdoors. Watch for signs of exhaustion or, more importantly, a cardiac event. Stop and rest if you feel tired, short of breath or have any pain — especially in your chest, neck, back or arms. The same goes for dizziness or rapid heartbeat. Those are signs to take a break or get help.
Not sure if you’re fit to hunt? Contact your doctor and get a checkup.
And even if you’re in great shape, it just makes sense to carry a cell phone, hunt with a buddy and let people know where you’ll be. Accidents and illness can happen, no matter how carefully you’ve prepared. Do all you can to have a safe day — whether or not you bag that buck or doe.