November 23, 2016

Hunting Safety

Training important

Download this episodeWhile many Americans are currently rambling from store to store hunting for the perfect holiday gift, many are trekking through swamps and forests in search of the perfect hunting trophy. Some 13 million people in this country took part in some form of hunting this year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The most recent National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation reported that 89 percent of hunters were men and 11 percent were women. In 2011, Americans laid out more than $33 billion on hunting expenditures, from equipment and apparel to licenses and travel-related expenses. Like all sports, certain precautions must be taken to prevent accidents or loss of life due to hunting-related activities. Firearms safety courses and hunting training classes can provide the kind of information necessary to prevent accidents in the great outdoors. Children and adults alike can benefit from educational offerings on the basics of hunter safety.

Hiding guns not enough

Download this episodeMore than one third of all U.S. households have a gun in them, so children need to understand the importance of gun safety, whether you own a gun or not. Many hunters raise their children to respect the sport. It’s equally important to teach children about how to handle firearms when not using them for hunting. For example, all ammunition should be removed from any guns after a hunting trip. Make sure the ammunition is locked up and stored away from the gun. Hiding guns is not enough, all weapons should be locked away and kept out of the reach of young children. If you store firearms in a safe or cabinet that requires a key, store the key in a different area from where you keep your household keys. When handling or cleaning a gun, never leave the weapon unattended. And be sure to lock up any gun cleaning supplies, which are often poisonous. It’s important that children understand that guns are not toys and should be treated appropriately.

Wearing orange

Download this episodeYou’ve probably noticed highway crews or airport personnel wearing reflective vests for safety. But why do so many hunters wear vibrant orange vests, hats and jackets when in the woods? In many states, it’s actually illegal to not wear an outer garment of fluorescent or blaze orange when hunting. Hunters not wearing blaze orange are subject to fines of up to a thousand dollars. Self protection is another reason. It’s well known that hunters wearing blaze orange are less likely to be mistaken for an animal and possibly shot. But did you know that deer and other game animals don’t have red-sensitive cone cells in their eyes, making it impossible for them to distinguish red or orange from green and brown. Deer have a different sensitivity to various wavelengths of light than humans. Deer see short wavelength colors such as blue brighter than humans do, but they are less sensitive to longer wavelengths such as orange and red, so these colors look darker to them.

Protect your ears

Download this episodeIf you’re a hunter, you wear waterproof boots to keep your feet dry, an insulated jacket to keep you warm. But what about protecting your ears? Approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69, that’s 26 million people, have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to noise at work or in leisure activities. Hunting and target shooting are two of the primary sources of hearing loss. Exposure to noise greater than 140 decibels can permanently damage hearing. Almost all firearms create noise that is over the 140-decibel level. A small .22-caliber rifle can produce noise around 140 decibels, while big-bore rifles and pistols can produce sound over 175 decibels. If you’re going hunting or target shooting, always use some type of hearing protection, such as ear muffs or earplugs. It’s a good idea to double protect your ears, like putting muffs over plugs when shooting big bore guns. And avoid shooting in groups or in areas where noise can reverberate.

Get in shape

Download this episodeHunting is a great way to relax and enjoy nature but be sure to take certain steps to ensure your safety in the great outdoors. Make sure your firearms are in good working order, and barrels and chambers are free of obstructions. Guns should be sighted properly and have proper-sized ammunition. Familiarize yourself with the area where you will be hunting beforehand so that you will know what’s beyond your target. If it’s been some time since you last hunted, it’s a good idea to start building up your endurance before hunting season. Heart attacks take a higher toll than careless hunting practices. Walking while carrying gear, spotting and shooting at a deer and dragging a carcass can cause more stress than the heart can handle. That’s not to say that you have to train like a marathon runner. Walking is a simple, easy way to strengthen your heart and lungs, tone muscles and generally improve fitness. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or take a walk during lunch.Trusted by thousands of listeners every week, T. Glenn Pait, M.D., began offering expert advice as the host of UAMS’ “Here’s to Your Health” program in 1996. Dr. Pait began working at UAMS in 1994 and has been practicing medicine for over 20 years.