Health Hazards

Considerations

  • Field camp is physically challenging and students must be prepared for a rigorous field experience. You will be conducting physically demanding field exercises, including considerable hiking at high elevations. Students in good physical condition are able to complete the course without difficulty. However, the performance of students in poor physical health or condition could be hindered by an inability to access portions of field project areas. Field camp is a physically demanding and may not be right for everyone.
  • Venomous rattlesnakes are common at lower elevations, but they are timid, avoid people, and rarely bite. Mountain lions have been seen in some of the field areas in the past. Moose are commonly encountered in the alpine meadows of our field areas. These are large and sometimes dangerous animals. Do not enter an area occupied by moose. All animals should be left alone – harassing any animal could result in your dismissal. Do not feed any animal, either intentionally or through your own inaction.
  • Stinging insects such as hornets, wasps and bees are present. Venomous spiders and scorpions are present in portions of the Basin & Range and Colorado Plateau. Deer ticks are common at lower elevations in the Wasatch Mountains.

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Associated Safety Hazards

  • Poor physical conditioning may lead to overexertion and severe fatigue that can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions and contribute to accidents. Participants in poor physical health or condition and those with serious medical conditions must check with their physician prior to attending this camp.
  • You may have allergic reactions to insect bites or plant puncture wounds.
  • Burrowed ticks can cause infection or spotted fever.

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Mitigation of Hazards

  • Please consult your physician before considering attending camp – especially if you have a history of cardiac or pulmonary problems, physical, emotional, or mental conditions. In such cases, a physician’s permission may be required prior to acceptance. We urge you to have thorough and complete medical and dental checkups before field camp. Minor complaints will be amplified under the stresses of heat, altitude, and hard work at camp. These issues should be taken care of in advance. You should have shots for tetanus if not currently protected.
  • Participants should determine their ability to handle the short periods (20 - 60 min) of strenuous exertion at relatively high altitudes required to access some of the field areas. Vertical changes in elevation are generally on the order of 800 ft (250 m) or less at base elevations of 5,000 to 10,000 ft (1,500 to 3,000 m). The importance of beginning daily cardiovascular exercise at least one month prior to departure cannot be stressed enough. 
  • Fully disclose all regular medications (prescription and OTC) in the Personal Medical Assessment form and notify the Director(s) of any special medications you may be taking before any emergency situation arises.
  • Fully disclose all known dangerous allergies (e.g., insect bites, foods, etc.) in the Personal Medical Assessment form. Bring any medicines or antidotes (epi-pens) that you might require. To ensure you receive appropriate care in the event of an emergency, personally bring your allergies to the attention of the Director(s) on the first day of camp (so we can associate your face with the form). 
  • Health insurance is required. You are responsible for all medical and dental expenses while at camp – the camp has no responsibility for the medical expenses of students and does not provide students with any forms of medical insurance. Work closely with your family and your university to determine what health insurance policies are available to you and what the limits of your coverage are before coming to camp. Make sure to carry your medical insurance information with you at all times.
  • Use insect repellant and check yourself carefully for ticks each day.
  • Your chances of being bitten by a snake become remote when wearing sturdy, over-ankle boots and by not putting your hands (or any other part of your body) in places you cannot see. Leave the snakes alone – a little fear is a very healthy thing. If you should be bitten, make sure the snake was a rattlesnake before doing anything. If it was a rattlesnake: (1) Slow down circulation and be as inactive as possible. If possible, don't run or walk, and have someone assist you to a vehicle. Allow the wound to bleed freely. (2) Have someone get you to a doctor as soon as possible. Make sure the doctor checks for reaction to horse-serum, if necessary.

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Last revised January 2013