Small Woodland Owners' Group

Safety in the woods

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Safety in the woods

Postby calvertwood » Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:24 am

My daughter's been concerned about my safety when I'm working alone in my wood. She got talking to a friend of hers, who I think must be a Forestry Commission manager or similar, who says that he kits out all his forest workers with something called a Spot - I think it's this gadget here ( or one of the same firm's other devices.

That looks to me completely over the top. My woodland's only 6 acres, so I'm not likely to be unfindable. I don't use a chainsaw, and I don't climb. I have a phone with me, and can give a location reference if do I need an ambulance. At a pinch, I guess my wife could use Apple's Find my Friends app to trace me. And if I'm going to drop dead of a heart attack, I can't think of a nicer place to do so.

I'm not sure these arguments are going to convince my daughter. How do other SWOGgers reassure anxious relatives that they're safe, or that they can call for help if need be?
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby smojo » Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:32 am

I don't. I have a small first aid kit, I know roughly where the nearest A&E is and I have my phone. Just starting to use chainsaw and it worries me a bit but I have chainsaw chaps, gloves, helmet so that's the only reassurance I can give. Living can be fatal! As you say, what better way to go.
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby smudge » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:49 pm

Have a good look at the bottom of trees some of mine are rotted over halfway through am amazed sometimes they manage to stay up only time I wont go up woods is when its really windy ,
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby Solar Wood » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:50 pm

When chain sawing I made a rule, never alone and only when fully togged up in safety trousers etc. I also have a anti bleed compound called Celox on hand in the first aid kit
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby oldclaypaws » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:22 pm

My family express concern about me alone in the woods, but as I point out its probably statistically safer than driving a car on a motorway and healthier than working in an office or indeed riding a bike.

By a quirky twist of fate, I was approaching my wood a couple of days ago when I found a guy lying very stunned and semi conscious in the road outside. He had been there for over half an hour unconscious with severe concussion. He cycles back from work daily but hit a patch of gravel in the lane, knocked himself out cold and dislocated his shoulder. I rang for an ambulance, stayed with him until it arrived, then took his rucksack and £2000 titanium bike back to his house as he was taken to hospital. Just goes to show, safe 'keep fit' pursuits ain't that safe compared to mucking about in the woods.

He's recovering and thanked me but has no recollection of it. He was well gone. But for a helmet, he'd be dead. Dangerous business, keeping fit.
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby Judith » Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:18 am

There are a number of first aid courses available specifically for woodland workers. We have a couple of reports on the website here:
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby Zathras » Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:50 am

I find myself in the woods alone a fair bit, and been looking at the SPOT devices for years (even before owning a woodland).

Our woods are on a slope which is steep in places, with tree roots to easily trip over, so there is a real opportunity to do yourself serious injury just walking through them if you're not careful. My mobile signal is not reliable in the woods, the location is tricky to explain to emergency services and there are no roads into the woods either.

So the SPOT does tick a good few boxes for me and would give more comfort to family and myself.
In particular there are a number of advantages of the spot device; firstly it doesn't depend on mobile signal, it is satellite based. Secondly, it will report your location automatically and only a single button press is required to call for emergency help or notify family of a problem (or to check in as all a-okay). It's also less breakable than my smartphone.

I can see the SPOT as a much better / safer option if I've badly tripped up and now have a broken bone poking out my leg.

The downside is that you need an annual service plan.

Not yet cracked and purchased one, but I can see it happening - probably after our first emergency situation, as is usually the case with such things...
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby calvertwood » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:44 pm

Thanks, Zathras - I'm interested to hear your thinking. I still think the Spot devices are really for professional loggers who are two weeks away from home in a gazillion hectares of British Columbian forest, but you've certainly got me re-considering. My daughter wants to buy me the gadget, so I guess I'd only be liable for the service plan. Hmmm.
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby Toby Allen » Sun Aug 23, 2015 5:47 pm

Could you just do an hourly check in with someone sensible? Then if you don't call in they call the relevant people.

A tip I got from here is having a draft text with the details to find you saved in the phone. Carry a whistle or a rape alarm.

To be honest I'd think seriously about felling trees or using a chainsaw without someone else on site or a robust emergency procedure in place. You'd feel silly dieing of hypothermia in the woods with a leg injury because no one knows you are in distress. ;)
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Re: Safety in the woods

Postby calvertwood » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:33 pm

Draft text - good idea, and I'll think more about that. I hadn't realised it was possible to send a text to 999. It seems you have to be registered to do so:
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