All posts filed under “Safety

Pacific Northwest Hiking
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No-nonsense tips for safe hiking

There’s still so much of summer left.  Have you ventured out to a hiking trail in the beautiful Pacific Northwest?  Whether you’re a novice or seasoned hiker there are many simple steps to keep yourself safe and enjoy your hike.

Follow the Hiker Responsibility Code.

Be prepared:

1. With knowledge and gear.  Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

2. To leave your plans.  Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return and your emergency plans.

3. To stay together.  When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group.  Pace your hike to the slowest person.

4. To turn back.  Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike.  The mountains will be there another day.

5. For emergencies.  Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening.  Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

6. To share the hike code with other. 

REI, the leader in outdoor equipment, also has a great list of 10 day hiking essentials to make your day fun and safe.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Loren Kerns

How to avoid your enemy and know if you've been bitten.
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Quick guide to spider bites

Spiders seem to be more plentiful after a mild winter.  Along with spiders comes the increase of spider bites.  Luckily not all spiders are poisonous, but if you’ve ever been bitten by a venomous spider you should know how to treat the bite.

The Pacific Northwest can claim several varieties of spiders that carry a bite to be medically important.  To know the difference between venomous, dangerous, and low-risk non aggressive spiders, refer to the USA spider identification chart.  In the unlikely event you’ve experienced a bite, know when to seek professional medical care vs simple home care of the bite site.

Remember, prevention is the first defense in avoiding a nasty spider bite.

Per the Mayo Clinic, here is how to prevent spider bites :

  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt, hat, gloves and boots when handling stored boxes or firewood, and when cleaning out sheds, garages, basements, attics and crawl spaces.
  • Inspect and shake out gardening gloves, boots and clothing that have been unused for a while.
  • Use insect repellents, such as DEET or Picaridin, on clothing and footwear.
  • Keep insects and spiders out of the house by installing tight-fitting screens on windows and doors, and caulking or sealing cracks or crevices where spiders can come in.
  • Discard old boxes, clothing and other unwanted items from storage areas.
  • Store items you want to keep off of the floor and away from walls.
  • Remove piles of rocks or lumber from the area around your house.
  • Avoid storing firewood against the house.
  • Vacuum spiders and spider webs and dispose of them in a sealed bag outside to prevent re-entry into the house.


caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Ray Bouknight
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Sunglasses: Look cool and be safe

Are your sunglasses a fashion statement? Whether they are or not, wear them to protect your eyes from the sun. The sun’s UV rays can hurt your eyes any time of year, even on overcast days. The damage adds up over your lifetime, and it can lead to vision problems like cataracts.

Before you buy sunglasses, here are some things to consider:

  • Choose sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays
  • Green, brown or gray lenses are best
  • Bigger is better
  • Wraparound styles can block rays that sneak in from the side
  • Wearing a hat with your shades gives you even more protection

Make your sunglasses a daily habit. Even kids who spend much time outdoors should protect their eyes from UV rays.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Mike Mozart

Watch your sun exposure
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Bad sunburn art could increase melanoma risk

Crazy trends are just that…..CRAZY!  And this one ranks right up there as one of the worst.  Instead of the previous summer quest for no tan lines some people are going in the opposite direction and are deliberately using their skin and the sun to create temporary art on their skin.    What?  Since when is melanoma art?  The American Cancer Society website has great information on skin cancer causes and prevention.   The biggest culprit is prolonged exposure to UV (ultra violet) rays.

There are other ways to have temporary art on your skin that aren’t cancer causing or permanent (tattoos).  How about Henna ink?  Seems like a safer choice. 

Let’s hope this trend fades like a tan  before you have to see the Oncologist

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Alan Light

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6 tips to beat the heat!

Ok. Portland isn’t supposed to be this hot. Ever. What’s the deal?! The sun is much appreciated – but how to stay cool in this insane heat if you don’t have air conditioning at home? Never fear! As always, the internet has the answers!

Tip #1: Freeze those sheets

This trick probably won’t keep you cool all night…but it will help you fall asleep, which seems like it’s half the battle! Put your sheets in a sealed plastic bag, being careful that it’s sealed tight so no moisture sneaks in. Pop the bag in the freezer for a few minutes – and snag them when it’s ready for bed.

This trick isn’t ideal, since your body heat will warm them back up. But hey – it’s something!

Tip #2: Cooling packs

These are more long-lasting than freezing sheets, and inexpensive which is another plus! Make your own cooling packs to put in your pillow cases at night. Pinterest for the win!

For each pack you need:

1 cup rubbing alcohol

2 cups water

2 freezer plastic bags

Put the rubbing alcohol and water in one freezer bag. Squeeze out all of the air you can, and then double bag it. Pop each pack in the freezer for 6+ hours. The rubbing alcohol will prevent the packs from freezing completely (making them squishy gel-like). Unlike Tip #1 above, these gel packs last for hours and are a welcome relief in the heat!

Tip #3: Close windows & blinds

This may seem like a no-brainer….but during the day close all your windows and draw the blinds. Keeping the sun out will help lower the temperature inside.

Tip #4: DIY A/C

If you’re feeling ambitious- try making your own air conditioner.

TIP #5: Swamp Cooler Method

Don’t worry. It’s classier than it sounds. Well…maybe not classy. But hey, it gets the job done. Cue Larry the Cable Guy…Get ‘er done!

What you need:

Large ice block from store

Turkey roasting pan


Place the large block of ice in the pan, with a fan blowing behind it. The fan will blow over the ice and cool down the room. Plus side – if you have animals, they will soon have tasty ice cool water to drink from a massive water dish!

Tip #6: Avoid large electronics

Using your oven, dryer, dishwasher, and other electronics can heat your home up. Avoid using them to keep the inside cool!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Dorian Wallender

Walking for mental health
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Super tips for boosting mental health

We all know that walking is good for your physical health. But researchers are diving deeper in to the mental health benefits of walking. It’s not just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, but the environment of your location plays a big factor is how your mental health improves. Read more on this from the Washington Post.

Looking for a few places to get in some quick nature walks? Check out Best Day Hikes for a few amazing places in the Pacific Northwest.  Remember to always pack a few snacks, water, cell phone and an emergency kit “just in case”.  REI has a great list of 10 essentials for any hike.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Ian D. Keating



Swimming safey
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Stay safe when swimming

Every year there are accidents and deaths in our rivers, lakes and ocean.  As the weather heats up we look to our natural resources to find a place to cool down and have fun.  But all too often, even the best swimmers, find themselves out matched by mother nature.

The Red Cross has provided useful information on preparation and response in emergency situations.   Fox News 12  also reported on the dangers of swimming in extreme cold water and the unforeseen accidents that can happen.

Spend time with your friends and family talking about swim safety to enjoy a long summer of water fun.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Michael Salazar

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Sun safety and you

Cue the music….it’s sunny! Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we get a little giddy when we experience quality sunshine. Hula-hooping hipsters, frisbee tossing dudes,  and  bikini-clad sunbathers emerge from organic & free trade coffee shops and flock to be outside. Who can blame them? Not only does the sun provide wonderful vitamin D, but it’s scientifically proven to boost our mood!

As summer approaches, enjoying the sweet sunshine is on the schedule – but what about sun safety?

The American Cancer Society recommends the “Slip! Slop! Slap!® and Wrap” approach to being sun safety savvy!

  • Slip on a shirt (dry shirt offers more protection from UV rays than a wet one)
  • Slop on some waterproof sunscreen (use broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15)
  • Slap on a hat (shade your face, ears, back of neck)
  • Wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes/skin around your eyes

Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun exposure can cause serious damage including cataracts and skin cancer. This summer be smart about your health while enjoying the sun.

Sun fun fact: it takes about 8 minutes for light from the sun to reach earth.

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention & American Cancer Society

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Mario Luckow

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What you need to know about ticks

Ticks — tiny brown bugs — can carry Lyme disease and other illnesses. Here are some tips to avoid them:

  • Watch for ticks in woods and grassy areas, often near rivers, mountains or dry climates.
  • Use insect repellent with at least 20 percent DEET.
  • Check your shoes, clothing and body for ticks after being outdoors.

If you find an attached tick, grasp it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out. If you get a rash or fever in the following weeks, contact your doctor.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by John Tann


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Nip stress-related drinking in the bud

Do you ever drink alcohol because you feel stressed? Studies show that many people do.

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to many health problems, such as increased risk of heart and liver diseases. It can cause nasty hangovers or even alcohol poisoning.

If you are drinking too much, you can get on a healthier path by:

  • Cutting back or quitting
  • Keeping track of how much you drink
  • Avoiding places where too much drinking occurs
  • Finding other ways to deal with stress

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Join us and other organizations in your community to spread the word to help prevent alcohol abuse.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Lindsey G


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