SUNDAY, Oct. 7, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Along with misfired rifle shots, common medical emergencies involving hunters include heart attacks, back injuries and broken bones. By following certain safety precautions, however, hunters can prevent injuries and avoid a trip to the emergency room, says a physician who enjoys the hobby himself.
"I am a hunter and always need to remind myself to lead by example when I'm in the woods," Dr. Eric Grube, an emergency medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Wis., said in a Mayo news release. "Hunting can be a fun sport for all to enjoy. But we need to make sure that fun isn't spoiled by some unfortunate accident."
Hunters should be clearheaded and informed about their surroundings, Grube said, and they should also wear clothes that are appropriate for hunting and the temperature. And, he said, they should always alert other hunters to their presence.
Grube recommended more precautions for hunters:
- Be aware of heart attack warning signs. Hunting can be physically difficult and cause a significant increase in heart rate, Grube explained. Anyone who is not used to rigorous physical activity, such as hiking over rough terrain, should take several breaks and rest. Hunters should be trained in basic first aid so they can help anyone who may have a heart attack.
- Pay attention. Hunting injuries are often caused by falls. The average fall from a tree stand is about 15 feet, he noted. By staying alert and aware of what is going on around them, hunters can avoid being startled and reduce their risk of falling, which can lead to broken bones, paralysis and even death.
- Check equipment and use safety belts. He advised hunters to avoid permanent tree stands, which are more likely to deteriorate.
- Do not drink alcohol. Hunters who have been drinking are more likely to hurt themselves or develop frostbite or hypothermia.
Hunters should also inform their families about their plans and carry two-way radios or whistles in case they need to call for help, Grube added.
He also cautioned hunters to follow the following basic firearm safety rules: Always point the muzzle of a gun in a safe direction; be sure of the target and what's beyond it; and keep fingers outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has more about hunting safety.