The Audubon Sanctuary: Safety in the Sanctuary
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Praying mantis egg sack It's been a while since I walked in the sanctuary, for two big reasons. The first is that my left knee was swelling on a regular basis, but I am happy to report that there has been much improvement since I eliminated inflammation-causing foods from my diet (sugar, dairy, and gluten were the main culprits) and I have started taking supplements like collagen, chondroitin, flax and borage oils, and turmeric. The improvement in both the knee and the weather warranted a long walk today in the sanctuary.
Sycamore jewelry! The second big reason is that on November 4, one of my friends was injured in the sanctuary. She tripped on uneven ground and fell hard, breaking both bones in her left forearm and fracturing a bone in her right ankle. Luckily, she was not alone, and after calling 911, her friend was able to meet rescuers at the gate and lead them to where she was. The ambulance was too big to fit down the old farm lane, so a pickup truck was called for to get her out.
Magenta berries My friend's accident made me think long and hard about all of the walking that I do by myself in somewhat isolated areas. It has taken me a few weeks to gain some perspective, so today while the weather was nice, I prepped myself for a safety walk, and while I was walking, thoughts of how I would approach this blog entry ran through my head. I have come up with some things to consider when walking alone in areas like sanctuaries, state parks, and wildlife refuges. These are in no particular order of importance.
1) Wear sturdy footwear. Hiking boots provide even better ankle support if you should step on a walnut or into a depression covered with leaves.
2) Wear a high visibility vest. It makes you easier to spot, and this time of year, various hunting is going on in rural areas, and although it is prohibited in places like state parks and sanctuaries, not everyone obeys the rules.
3) Take a fully charged cell phone with you. Include "in case of emergency" information in the contacts of the phone, or carry that information on a card in your pocket, especially if your phone is locked and needs a passcode. If cell service is an issue, carry a whistle, too. It will help rescuers to locate you.
4) Know where you are. This may sound obvious, but if you are unaware of which trail you are on, or are not aware of landmarks like a stream or a pavilion, it may be difficult to tell rescuers where to find you. If there is a map of the location, study it before embarking on your walk, so you can tell rescuers you are on the red trail, or in Area B, or whatever references may be on a map. Also, let rescuers know if a pickup truck or an ATV may be needed to find you in a difficult-to-access area, so that time is not wasted.
5) Last but not least, text someone to let them know you are going alone on a hike or walk at the sanctuary, and text them again when you are home. At least someone will know your last whereabouts if you are missing and no one knows where to find you. As a side note, because I am single and live alone, my friend Norma and I have traded emergency contact information with each other. Now I can call her daughter if there is an emergency, and she can call mine.
I love our sanctuaries, and I do not want to let fear of having an accident keep me from going. I will try to find a walking partner when I want to go in more remote areas, like alongside streams, but when I'm by myself, I will stick to the mowed pathways. I'm also happy to report that after surgery to realign the bones in her arm and an orthopedic boot to help heal her ankle fracture, my friend is on the mend. She has even been cleared for air travel, to visit her daughter for Thanksgiving.
In a time when we are so reliant on our cell phones to make immediate connections to the outside world, it pays to consider one's safety when walking alone in isolated locations that may have spotty service or none at all. Be prepared, and be aware. I know that from now on, I will err on the side of caution, so that I am able to return to the sanctuary for another walk on another day.
<Thanks for reading my blog entry, which is part of a personal photography project to bring attention to and to benefit the Audubon Sanctuaries in Central Maryland: Fred Archibald Sanctuary in New Market, MD, and Audrey Carroll in Mt. Airy. The sanctuary is owned and managed by the Audubon Society of Central Maryland. Volunteers are always needed to help with sanctuary management. Copyright 2017 Cam Miller. All photographs are for sale upon request.>
Good suggestions. Relatively often I'm in remote areas by myself with marginal cell service. One tip to keep in mind is to send text updates of your location and progress to a friend. While cell service can drop quickly, text messages often will go through if there are no photos or graphics. I just finished a couple of days of canoeing in the Okefenokee. I'd only see a few people over the entire day and cell service was limited, but text messages usually made it through.
I've pretty well stopped exploring areas with slippery rocks that are covered with moss. Even experienced guides can fall. Some of these areas just need to be avoided.
Very helpful. I have just started "birding" and new to Delaware. The texting and whitsle so important.
I really enjoyed reading this and I am an avid photographer that enjoys going to national and state parks and the local parks and wild life preserves and I have encountered many differentkinds of walking terrains. Your suggestions have really peaked my concerns being careful while out taking photos. I have weak ankles and try to be careful to avoid uneven paths. I cannot wear hiking boots. Your suggestions on leaving info to people where you are , are invaluable.
Cam, Very insightful! I’ve never considered the possibility of encountering any issues while out shooting by myself. Made me think about some heart issues I dealt with last year. Great information. Thank you.
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