This years’ wildfire season is just around the corner and it could be worse than most years due to the increased numbers of the public enjoying the countryside. Although wildfires can be started naturally the majority are caused by people, either accidentally or deliberately.
We experienced this last year during the various lockdowns when people accessed their local areas more and enjoyed UK breaks as alternatives to travel abroad. This summer, potentially even more people could be out and about, having had their foreign holiday plans disrupted. Many of these will not be aware of the Countryside Code and so the risk from Wildfires from portable BBQs, campfires, and discarded cigarettes will be increased.
Springtime is ‘Tick Time’ and we must be alert to them becoming active once more and be prepared. Ticks are not only a risk in woodlands but also in urban areas such as parks. We must be alert to the risk and take suitable precautions. Prevention is not possible, so reduction and quick and safe removal are key. You should do a tick check at the end of each day out on site, the graphic below shows you the hot spots for tick bites.
We can reduce the likelihood of a tick bite by following the guidance in Tilhill’s Guidance Note GN83. GN83 is a comprehensive guide and gives more details on steps to take to reduce your risk. Your best defense if you do have a tick bite is to quickly identify any ticks that are attached and safely remove using a proper tick removal tool.
The current predicted risk level can be viewed at http://www.fleatickrisk.com, who also have phone apps to provide the information to you.
With summer around the corner and the hot weather on the way (hopefully), it’s never been more important to stay hydrated. Dehydration can have serious consequences for us, both in our ability to regulate our body temperature and our cognitive and physical performance.
Without sufficient water levels, heat cannot be released via sweat, body heat is trapped leading to a rise in your core body temperature. This increases the risk of heat exhaustion, possibly leading to heat stroke.
Becoming dehydrated can also affect your ability to work safely by impairing your mental abilities and physical performance. A 1% reduction in hydration can lead to a 12% reduction in productivity, as well as reductions in concentration, thinking skills and fine motor skills. Not ideal when operating machinery and equipment.
Dehydration effects can be minimised by frequently drinking cool water (rather than tea, coffee or carbonated drinks) in small volumes to compensate for water and metabolite losses due to sweating. Thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration – rather it should be considered an early indicator that you are starting to suffer from the effects of dehydration.
Another way to tell if you need to drink more is to look at how often you’re urinating and what colour it is. If you’re drinking enough, your urine should be pale yellow. If you don’t need to go as often as usual, you only pass a small amount each time and it’s dark in colour, it’s likely that you’re dehydrated.
Sun glare when checking above
As the days lengthen and the sun hopefully comes out more, sun glare can become a problem. Especially in early spring when it can still be quite low in the sky at the start and end of the day. Have you ever stopped to think about this?
How often do you have to squint at what you are looking at to reduce sun glare? How much does that impede your vision of what you are looking at? In our industry it is essential that you have a good view of your surroundings, whether that is spotting members of the public when operating machinery, or vitally, to be able to see well enough the condition of the surrounding trees and canopy when operating a chainsaw.
It can be hard to keep disciplined in this when you have already felled many trees safely that day, and the days and weeks before also, but seeing clearly or not can literally be the difference between life and death. Sun glare makes this clear sight lines harder, but we must take that time, step to one side to get a better view and ensure we have properly assessed our surroundings.