December 16, 2011
No doubt many of our readers have read or heard about the 83 year-old man, Bruce Charity, of Newmarket, N.H., who went hiking alone, and missing overnight , was finally found in a remote swampy area in Durham, N.H. by a New Hampshire State Police helicopter pilot. It was only good luck that the pilot saw a part of Mr. Charity’s clothing. He was laying in swampy water and suffering from severe hypothermia when rescuers finally got to him. Had that pilot not finally spotted his blue jeans among the trees, things could have ended up far worse.
Yes, hiking is fun and many people enjoy doing so. However, all too many hikers don’t take safety into consideration, figuring that they know the area and nothing could go wrong. Well, had Mr. Charity been wearing a jacket, vest and hat of Hunter Orange, that helicopter pilot would have spotted him much easier and faster as would possibly the persons searching on the ground. Hunter Orange clothing can be a life saver to more people than just hunters.
I recall when I was a student at Dublin School, in Dublin, N.H., in the early 1950s, we used to participate in supervised hikes up Mount Monadnock. One day, one of the kids in our group wandered off unnoticed. It was shortly after that we realized he was missing and we set up a search group. He had wandered off onto another trail and finally realized he was lost. In his panic, he slipped on a rock, fell and hurt himself. Fortunately, he was wearing a bright orange colored jacket that one of the teachers saw and the group was able to get to him. He sprained his ankle and was helped down to the bottom and taken to a hospital for treatment. The teacher mentioned to us that had he not been wearing that bright orange jacket, he might not have been seen that fast.
There are other safety habits that hikers need to follow. Carry a map and compass with you and know how to use them, a loud whistle, flashlight, pocket knife and a First Aid Kit. Let someone know where you intend to hike and when you expect to return. If Mr. Charity had not been expected to be home by 6:30 p.m., his family might have waited until morning to call for help. Last, but not least, don’t go hiking alone. Have a friend or relative go with you and be sure to keep within each others sight. Be prepared for the weather also, wearing proper warm clothing and boots. And please, do wear bright orange clothing.
Bob Harris can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org