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NEWS | July 24, 2012

Enjoying the great outdoors ...safely

By Dan Burley 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office

We're more than halfway through the "101 Critical Days of Summer" and Joint Base Charleston Airmen and Sailors have done a great job staying safe so far. However, let's not lower our guard just yet as there are still plenty of warm, sunny days ahead.

One thing is for sure, the "Dog Days of Summer" are upon us and a little extra precaution is needed when enjoying the great outdoors, especially if you're going to be hiking in the back country.

Whether you're planning a day-long hike in the great outdoors, or just a few hours strolling the local trails at Marrington Plantation, there are some essentials that are necessities for your backpack. Water is a must for everyone, and don't forget extra water for the pooches if they're coming along too. Next is sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor rating of at least 15. Don't be stingy when applying sunscreen; it doesn't do you any good if it stays in the bottle. Extra food, high in calories, is essential especially if your plans include high exertion activities like rock climbing, swimming or rowing.

In addition, include a first-aid kit, emergency shelter and multi-tool with your gear. There are first-aid kits designed with the outdoor enthusiast in mind that are light-weight, compact and fit easily in any pack. As for emergency shelters, there are many options to choose from. There are off-the-shelf shelters such as a space blanket, or you can simply create your own by jamming a few large plastic garbage bags taped together into your pack. It doesn't matter which you choose, each works well in case you need sudden protection from the elements or have to stay outdoors overnight. As for the multi-tool, there are numerous, compact, high-quality models available in a wide range of prices and configurations. Multi-tools with at least a knife and saw blade function are beneficial in the outdoors.

Maps, a compass and extra lighting are a must. Simply put, if you don't have light to read the compass and map, then they won't do you much good. Pack extra flashlight batteries as well as a waterproof map that shows prominent terrain features and a durable compass that can hold up to the elements.
Continue to be safe this summer, plan for the hot weather and make your journey into the great outdoors a wonderful experience.