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Stay safe this hunting season

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As the air turns crisp and green leaves change to vibrant reds and yellows, hunters prepare to head into the woods. Unfortunately, this time of year also means emergency departments tend to see an increase in life-altering injuries that are mostly preventable.

“Every year we see many injuries resulting from hunters falling out of deer stands,” said Robert Nolan, DO, medical director trauma, Spectrum Health Lakeland. “Broken ankles, wrists, and necks have all been treated from these falls. We've also cared for patients with severe hypothermia. Enjoy hunting but be sure you're doing so safely.”

What can hunters do to avoid injury?

  • Never use drugs, alcohol, or sedatives while hunting.
  • Choose a tree large enough to support your weight.
  • Never hurry to set up your stand. Take your time and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Inspect tree stands each time before use. Replace any worn or weak lumber before it breaks. Check for loose nuts and bolts before every single use.
  • Always wear a safety harness or belt while checking or using a stand. Know what you should do if you slip while using a safety device. Make a plan.
  • Use a short tether between you and the tree when attaching your fall restraint device. This is to keep you in the stand if you slip or fall, not to catch you after you have fallen.
  • Use a haul line to raise or lower equipment.
  • Keep firearms unloaded and arrows in a covered quiver when going up or down.
  • Stay awake and alert. Always be aware of your position on the tree stand platform.
  • Make sure someone knows your location and when you’ll be there, every time.
  • Always carry a cell phone or other device to call for help if you need it. Keep it close by.

With three emergency departments designated as trauma centers, we’re here for you when you need us. The emergency department at Spectrum Health Lakeland Medical Center is designated as a Level III Trauma Center, which means our care team is able to provide prompt assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care, and stabilization of injured patients and emergency operations. The emergency departments at Spectrum Health Lakeland Niles Hospital and Spectrum Health Lakeland Watervliet Hospital are designated as Level IV Trauma Centers, and can provide advanced trauma life support prior to transfer.

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