Safety and Logistics in the Field

At the Site

Considerations are different for an adult or a group of adults in the field than they are for taking students into the field, but certain measures related to safety are universal. At any field site, safety is the first priority. No photograph, measurement, or fossil is worth the risk of personal injury or death. To ensure safe and productive fieldwork, keep the following thoughts in mind:

  • Always carry a small, standard first-aid kit.
  • Wearing the proper clothing is very important. Long pants are recommended, as are sturdy boots, which will help prevent twisted ankles as you scurry over uneven or loose surfaces.
  • While walking through a valley or next to any outcrop, always be on the lookout for rock falls. Remember, slopes with no vegetation tend to produce more falls.
  • If more than one individual is climbing an outcrop, do not climb single file. Rocks dislodged from one climber can quickly tumble down the outcrop and hit the next climber.
  • When using your rock hammer, protective eyewear should always be worn. If your hammer possesses a sharp pick opposite the flat surface, always use the flat surface when striking. And if you are working with others, notify all in the vicinity before striking any surface with your hammer.
  • Never use one hammer to strike another. Metal chips can be broken off and thrown at high speeds.

Sunscreen, insect repellent, flashlights, food, and water should be considered in relation to environmental conditions and length of the field excursion. Please note that this chapter is written with shorter excursions in mind where substantial supplies will not generally be required. The next section offers more detail on the materials to take with you into the field.

Give appropriate consideration to group management. We suggest taking individual classes into the field for short trips before attempting either longer fieldwork excursions or trips with multiple classes. Managing larger groups or longer trips requires attention to logistics that will not be addressed in depth here. Whether the group is large or small, consider the benefits of a buddy system and measures to keep track of where everyone is—both children and adults. If groups are spread out on the trail, the lead group should stop at trail crossings to make sure everyone follows the intended trail. Younger students should not be left unsupervised for any length of time. Schedules and rendezvous points are important for longer trips and larger groups. All teachers and chaperones should have one another’s cell phone numbers.