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Natural Areas Outdoor Safety

Safety is an important component of any day spent outside. The Natural Areas Department values your safety! The activities and events that the Department sponsors primarily take place outdoors. You are responsible for your own safety. Outdoor activities include the potential for serious injury, death and property loss. Please choose activities that match your abilities and be prepared for site and weather conditions. Current weather information here>>>

Safety Resources

  • Lightning and rattlesnake hazards are explained in this bookmark (rattlesnake info is on page 1, lightning on page 2).

  • What Should I Bring? The Ten Essentials have been adapted here into Eight Essentials, more appropriate for frontcountry natural area visits:
    1. Navigation (map & compass)
    2. Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
    3. Insulation (extra clothing and rain gear)
    4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
    5. First-aid supplies and cell phone (to dial 911 where reception is available)
    6. Gear repair kit and tools (such as bike tubes/patches, buckles)
    7. Nutrition (extra food)
    8. Hydration (extra water)
    --Adapted from Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition by The Mountaineers, The Mountaineers Books.

  • Heat and cold injuries- Heat stress, from exertion or hot environments, places you at risk for illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps. Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hypothermia and cold stress are concerns as well. Learn more from the CDC.

  • West Nile Virus-West Nile Virus is a disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Prevent it by using insect repellent everytime you are outdoors during West Nile season. Learn the number of trapped mosquitoes in your neighborhood, read the West Nile Virus Management Policy and sign-up to recieve notifications about spraying on the City of Fort Collins West Nile Virus webpage.

  • Rabies- Rabies information and map of cases.

  • What to do in a lightning storm:
    1. PLAN in advance your evacuation and safety measures. When you first see lightning or hear thunder, now is the time to return to your vehicle. Unsafe places include underneath canopies, picnic shelters or pavillions, vault toilets, or near trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car with the windows completely shut.
    2. Lightning often precedes rain; so don't wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities.
    3. AVOID WATER. Avoid the high ground. Avoid open spaces. Avoid all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc. If lightning is striking nearby when you are outside, you should:
      1. Crouch down. Put feet together. Place hands over ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder.
      2. Avoid proximity (minimum of 15 ft.) to other people.
    4. SUSPEND ACTIVITIES for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.
    5. INJURED PERSONS do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Apply First Aid procedures to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so. Call 911 (cell phone reception is not reliable in all natural areas) or send for help immediately.
    6. KNOW YOUR EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS. Know your location, so if you use a cell phone to call 911 for help, you can help emergency personnel know where you are. A few of Fort Collins' natural areas have yellow emergency call boxes which could be used after lightning has stopped to get help for an injured person.

    Abide by this safety slogan:
    "If you can see it, flee it; if you can hear it, clear it."

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