Questions tagged [safety]

Questions that discuss about precautions need to be taken for ensuring the safety in various outdoor activities that are in scope of The Great Outdoors should be tagged with this tag.

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59
votes
10answers
13k views

What is the safest way to purify water?

There are a number of ways to purify water, off the top of my head we have filters, iodine, and boiling. Clearly each has some advantage/disadvantage (iodine tastes terrible, boiling takes time). ...
32
votes
6answers
4k views

What precautions should I take to protect myself and my camp from bears?

Most of my prior hiking experience has been in areas that are not home to bears, so what precautions should I take to protect my camp (and myself as I am hiking) from bears. I am aware of a couple of ...
40
votes
1answer
41k views

How much sea water can I safely drink?

Anyone who has played in the ocean knows getting a little sea water in your mouth and swallowing it will not kill you. Seawater contains salt. When humans drink seawater, their cells are thus taking ...
37
votes
4answers
4k views

If I have to cross an icy, flowing river, what are some ways I can cross safely?

If I'm alone in a survival situation and I have to cross a very cold river that's still flowing, how should I accomplish this safely?
19
votes
3answers
4k views

Backup prusik for Abseiling: Where does it go?

When abseiling from an anchor during rock climbing, I like to use a backup prusik as a potential lifesaver in case I screw up. However, I have heard different advice on where to put it, both for ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

What are the first aid precautions to be taken in case of a snake bite?

I'll be trekking through a dense monsoon forest which has a sizable population of king cobras and vipers. I'll be at least 5 hours away by walk to the nearest human settlement and another 1-2 hours by ...
26
votes
4answers
3k views

Why are people so worried about Giardia?

Everyone I have ever been camping with seems to have an unwritten rule never to drink from streams no matter how clear they might seem, for fear of Giardia. I have also heard people telling about ...
46
votes
16answers
31k views

How can I tell if I am dehydrated or have low electrolytes (need salt, etc.)?

How can detect, in the outdoors with minimal equipment, if I am dehydrated or need electrolytes? Update Some background: I get overheated very easily, possibly because I don't sweat as much as most ...
58
votes
11answers
7k views

How should I remove a tick?

If I find a tick on myself or a friend, what is the best way of removing it? I've heard some people say that singeing the tick with a match makes the tick detach and fall off. However I've also ...
53
votes
4answers
33k views

Is drinking urine safe?

We've all heard stories about how people saved their lives by drinking their urine. Is drinking urine safe when there are no other water sources available? Can I filter it with a water purifier?
17
votes
2answers
10k views

What should one do when get a cramp while swimming?

I'm not a really good swimmer. While swimming casually, when I get a cramp in my thighs or toes, it definitely makes me panic a bit and hampers my swimming in a bad way. What should I be doing if I ...
81
votes
11answers
33k views

Should I run if I see wild dogs?

Feral dogs appear to be dangerous. Should I be running if I come across one, or should I stand fast and defend myself? They are a social animal, so they will be in a pack almost all the times.
20
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the real dangers of climbing at high altitude?

I had a campfire discussion not long ago with a man that got pulmonary edema while attempting the summit of Aconcagua, and we got into the discussion of the effects of high elevation. I had always ...
32
votes
10answers
137k views

What are areas of the body which lose heat more quickly, and how can I reduce that loss?

What are the higher heat loss areas of the body and how can I reduce heat loss in those areas?
11
votes
2answers
934 views

How should we protect ourselves from a lightning strike?

We are in the great outdoors and a massive thunderstorm will be over us soon. What steps should we take to be safe from a lightning strike? This question is not "am I safe in my tent" etc. You are ...
24
votes
3answers
931 views

How should I check climbing equipment to tell whether it is still safe to use?

I have, unfortunately, not had the opportunity to go climbing (and thus use my climbing equipment) for a couple years. I know that such equipment, especially the rope and webbing, can degrade over ...
24
votes
5answers
8k views

How safe is the bowline knot in different situations?

The bowline knot (picture below, source) has a great reputation as a very safe knot. Is it really completely safe in all situations and loads, or are there use cases where it may fail?
8
votes
4answers
31k views

How to safely store a propane/butane/isobutane canister in a vehicle?

The canisters that I have purchased so far have included a warning not to let the canister get above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It looks like the inside of car can get well above that, hot enough to bake ...
27
votes
2answers
17k views

Can groundwater still be consumed if after boiling the water turns brown with an oily substance floating on top?

This weekend we went "pole camping". A pole camp site (dutch link only) is a camp site offered by the departments of forestry in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is very basic. What is offered is a ...
25
votes
7answers
16k views

Cheese and eggs on backpacking trips

I have taken some hard cheeses onto backpacking trips quite successfully without spoilage, but I have not dared taking more than I can eat in about 3 days. Eggs I have not dared to take. I am ...
25
votes
3answers
4k views

How should I vet belayers? What should I look for?

The other night I went to the climbing gym, intending to look for a climbing partner once I got there. (My usual gym climbing partner isn't available to climb as often as I want to.) The gym provides ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I inspect a climbing rope?

It is imperative that climbing ropes are in excellent shape so they don't split while someone is climbing. How do I properly inspect the rope when I'm about to start a climb?
14
votes
2answers
398 views

What safety equipment should I carry for sea-touring by kayak?

What equipment should I carry in case of emergency on a coastal kayaking trip? I normally do short trips (1 week or less) around the islands of northwest Scotland. I tend to travel solo (sometimes no ...
9
votes
4answers
454 views

Are statistics about the frequency of crime actually useful in determining how safe a trail is?

We have a question here about how common assaults/crime happen to people hiking the Appalachian Trail which I have answered with basically all of the statistics I could find. However it doesn't seem ...
20
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the risk of starting a forest or wildland fire with a flare gun?

When firing a flare gun in the air, what is the risk of accidentally starting a forest or wildland fire? Does the flare go out completely before it touches the ground?
16
votes
6answers
9k views

Should a carabiner ever be clipped to the tie-in loops and should anything other than a carabiner ever attach to the belay loop?

I'm a beginning climber and am trying to resolve conflicting instruction related to tying into my harness. During a recent outing a friend (an experienced climber, but not an instructor) was showing ...
15
votes
2answers
6k views

What do life jacket ratings mean (Type I, Type II, etc)?

Looking at flotation devices (life jackets) they are rated Type I, Type II, etc. What do these rankings mean and what type should I by?
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Correct and incorrect slip-slap-slide belay technique

This blog has a discussion of the slip-slap-slide and PBUS techniques for taking in rope when belaying. Here is a video demonstrating PBUS. Slip-slap-slide is illustrated on p. 161 of Freedom of the ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

Trail gun for protection against bears

Choosing a trail gun is proving more challenging than I would like. What handgun calibres are powerful enough to provide some protection against aggressive bears? I want something manageable ...
4
votes
1answer
307 views

Beginning paddle boating

Assume I am completely naïve of boating concerns, that I know the following: There are things that float and carry stuff across the water called boats. A boat needs something to make it move. Some ...
61
votes
15answers
26k views

How can I take keys with me while swimming?

I was recently crossing a lake that is commonly used for swimming and recreation. When I was swimming back to the shore, I was constantly nervous that my bag would be stolen, along with the keys in it....
44
votes
8answers
43k views

How to react to cattle charging towards you?

Cattle may get aggressive when threatened, or they might just imitate to be aggressive. I have seen cattle charging towards a person when irritated. How should one react if a cow or bull comes ...
47
votes
5answers
21k views

Can I use a bicycle helmet as a climbing helmet?

I have a bicycle helmet that fits well. Can it be used effectively as a rock climbing helmet? Most climbing helmets have a hard shell that the bicycle helmet does not. However, one of the more ...
31
votes
9answers
139k views

How to warm up your cold toes and fingers?

In winter your hand and feet (especially toes and fingers) may get painfully cold or you may even stop feeling them. How can you warm them up? This usually happens, when it's below 0°С or when it's ...
48
votes
3answers
21k views

Is it possible to rappel with only a rope? (No harness, Prusik cord, or other gear)

There may be an emergency situation where I find myself needing to lower myself but with no or damaged equipment. Assuming I only have a rope, can I lower myself to safe ground?
33
votes
9answers
20k views

When back country camping, how do you avoid being attacked by a mountain lion in your sleep?

I'm looking to camp in SE Oregon. At minimum, my girlfriend and I will have sleeping bags. We're open to adding a tent, fire, and other stuff as recommended. Our goal is to be able to hike around ...
33
votes
7answers
141k views

How dangerous is a band of coyotes to a lone, unarmed human?

There's a delightful thrill to the call of a band of coyotes when you're alone in the dark woods. Do they present a danger? That is, have healthy coyotes (that is, not rabid) been known to attack or ...
33
votes
5answers
94k views

How dangerous are kangaroos?

After watching this video of a man punching a kangaroo to rescue his dog, I am wondering how dangerous a kangaroo is to a human on foot? I am sure that there are a lot of other things in Australia ...
32
votes
6answers
7k views

How bad do circumstances need to be before activating a PLB?

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) can be carried during outdoor activities to use in case of an emergency. But are there any guidelines on what exactly constitutes an "emergency"? For example, what ...
26
votes
5answers
7k views

Will Black Bears actually follow you up a tree

I always see it pointed out, when discussing how to handle/avoid bear encounters, that black bears can climb trees. Granted, but does that matter? Has there ever been a case of a black bear pursuing ...
25
votes
8answers
9k views

Are there any natural materials found in the wild that can be used as an effective sunscreen?

There are animals such as pigs and elephants that wallow in mud which possibly serves as protection from sunburn. There are also some plants such as Aloe vera (Aloe vera) and Jewelweed (Impatiens ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

How safe is sleeping in bear country?

We have recently hiked in Slovakian mountains where bears live. I’m not too concerned about the bears during the day, as we make enough noise to avoid an encounter. But I am not sure about sleeping ...
16
votes
2answers
346 views

Reference request: books on self-rescue while climbing

Can people recommend books or online resources on self-rescue for roped climbing? As a beginning trad leader, I think I should have a basic understanding of topics like how to escape a belay and how ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

How to prepare for and survive wildfire?

In some areas, such as the western US, wildfires are common during the summer dry season. "Fire safety" advice usually centers on not starting a wildfire, e.g. extinguishing or avoiding campfires. ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a large difference in WFA (Wilderness First Aid) programs?

I am looking at taking a WFA (Wilderness First Aid) class and there are a couple of outfits in my area offering it. Namely, SOLO, NOLS, and The American Red Cross. I have heard nothing but great ...
14
votes
3answers
10k views

What to do at the top of a sport climb

I dabble a little at leading trad, but have never led a sport route. If I do a sport lead, I want to make sure I don't make some stupid mistake when I get to the top. For example, I don't want to ...
18
votes
2answers
22k views

Why are tourniquets not recommended as a first aid for a snakebite?

Why are tying the tourniquets or restricting bandages not recommended or in fact to be avoided to treat a snakebite before getting the proper medical attention? Closely related questions: Am I able ...
14
votes
2answers
5k views

How to be safe on lake and river ice and what should I do when I fall through?

It's late October and in cold, northern hemisphere climates, winter has arrived, and moderate northern hemisphere climates will follow soon. In my area, small lakes are already frozen and people have ...
12
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it ever necessary to double up locking carabiners?

I see people doing this a lot: My question is: Why? When is it necessary to double up locking carabiners? Ever? Doubling up non-locking carabiners with opposite and opposing gates was, and still is ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Anchor without cordelette?

I have the John Long book on climbing anchors and also a couple of others that describe the subject more briefly (Pesterfield, Traditional Lead Climbing, and Freedom of the Hills). When it comes to ...