Hunting & Firearm Safety Tips and Tick-borne Infection Prevention
Safety & Awareness | November 1, 2019
By Sarah Rhone RN, BSN, PHN, Safe Kids Fox Valley Coordinator
Are you hitting the woods with family or friends in hopes to bag that “30 pointer?”
Hunting season is a great time of year for family traditions and making memories. Maybe it’s Grandma’s favorite chili recipe, or that story/joke Uncle Steve always tells. Whatever the reason may be, Safe Kids Fox Valley wants every hunter to be safe so traditions can carry on generation through generation.
Approaching hunting season, there are many things you can do to prepare for the big hunt. Your hunting safety checklist should include the “do’s & how’s” of tree stand safety, gun safety, adjusting to extreme temperatures and preventing tick-borne diseases.
Falls from elevated hunting platforms have replaced firearm accidents as the largest source of hunting-related injuries and deaths in the United States (Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2016, p. 1).” Review the below Department of Natural Resources (DNR) tips to keep you safe in the tree stand this hunting season.
First, get & wear a full body harness! Information on standards for body harnesses can be found at tmastands.com.
Next, take a 15 minute online tree stand safety course at huntercourse.com/treestandsafety.
Other tips from the DNR include selecting a tree to support your weight, follow manufacturers recommendations on purchased tree stands, have three points of contact when climbing a tree stand, use a haul line to get your UNLOADED weapon up and down, and use a short tether between you and the tree while in the stand. Also, remember to tell someone where you will be hunting, parking your vehicle, and your arrival and departure times, and always keep a cell phone on you!
Prevent that emergency call before, during, and after the hunt by following some simple but life saving tips on gun safety. Safe Kids Worldwide reminds caregivers to store guns and ammunition safely in a locked location when not in use, having guns unloaded and out of kids sight. In addition, use effective, child-resistant gun locks and talk to your kids about guns. Explain to them to never touch a gun and tell an adult if they see one. During the hunt, the DNR has a TAB-K formula to use for basic firearm safety:
- T – Treat every firearm as if it was loaded.
- A – Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
- B – Be certain of your target and what’s beyond.
- K – Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
Next, let’s prep the gear for this traditional part of year. Make sure you clean your firearm and inspect it and other equipment for wear. Organize your clothing, making sure to prepare for extreme temperatures by layering clothing and covering all parts of your body, exposing little to no skin in correlation with the use of hand and foot warmers. In addition, make sure to cover your head, this is where most of your body heat escapes. Also, according to Wisconsin law, 50% of outer garments above the waist including head covering must be blaze orange during firearm gun season with the exception of waterfowl hunters. Now, even though skin is covered, defense from tick-borne diseases has not been addressed.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Lyme disease is the states highest reported tick-borne illness. However, numbers of other tick-borne infections are on the rise. To protect yourself from these infectious tick bites, stay on trails in the woods, avoiding contact with brush, overgrown grass, and leaf debris. Also, wear long pants, sleeves, and socks, and tape where they meet with skin. Also, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it is recommended that adults use repellents with 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites. Finally, when returning from the hunt, inspect skin and hair for ticks and properly remove and dispose.
Safe Kids Fox Valley wants every hunt to be fun and safe, being injury and tick free.
Teaching youth safety in early years is part of the memories they make. Set a good example, and with any luck, the “30 point buck” will be bagged and tagged creating safe traditions and fun memories along the way!