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Scott Huntington

6 boating tips for beginners

By | Boating | No Comments

Whether you’ve just purchased your first boat, or want to get a feel for being out on the water before you sign on that dotted line, everyone starts as a boating beginner. It can be intimidating – piloting a boat is just like driving a car, except it’s completely different. If you want to start your captaining journey, here are six boating tips for beginners to get you started.

  1. Start with Training

You wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car without some training, so why would you do the same with a boat? The best tip that we can give you is to get some training first. This doesn’t have to be official training – you can just as quickly learn what you need to know to safely pilot a boat from a friend who spends a lot of time on the water. The critical point to take away from this tip is that you shouldn’t head out onto the water alone with no training.

Make sure you check what your state’s boating rules and regulations are. Some states require you to have a boating license while others only need a valid drivers license to be able to pilot a boat.

  1. Don’t Forget to Check the Weather

There’s nothing worse than heading out on the water on what appears to be a sunny day, only to find yourself trapped in a squall. Check the weather every time before you head out. NOAA is an excellent resource for boaters because they provide weather information on land and the water. Check things like water temperature, weather forecasts, and wind speed to help you determine the best time to head out and explore your local waterways.

  1. Practice Loading and Unloading Your Boat

Driving with a boat trailer attached to your car or truck can be easy – if you’re driving forward in a straight line. Learning to back up your trailer down a boat ramp is tricky and requires practice. The last thing you want to do is damage your boat or back your vehicle so far down the ramp that you end up stuck in the water and need of rescue.

Practicing loading and unloading your boat can also keep you from making enemies at the boat ramp. Everyone wants to get out on the water as quickly as possible, and if your inexperience is holding up the line, you won’t be making any friends.

  1. Properly Tow Inflatable Boats

Depending on the size of your boat, you may not be able to get everywhere you want to go – especially if your boat has a deep keel. Inflatable boats can provide you with extra mobility if you find an island or a river mouth that you want to explore while you’re out, but you need to know how to tow them properly to prevent damage to your boat, your inflatable craft or even yourself.

An inflatable should always be attached to at least two points on your main craft. It’s recommended that you have d-rings on the port and starboard sides to keep the inflatable stable and prevent it from drifting in your wake. Three-point connections are better – they add another D-ring in between the other two points for added stability – but not every boat is equipped with all of these tie-down points.

  1. Don’t Skimp on Safety Equipment

There’s no way to avoid it – purchasing and maintaining a boat is an expensive hobby. You might be tempted to cut corners to save a few dollars here and there by buying used equipment or financing parts that you can’t afford outright. One thing that you should never skimp on is safety equipment.

Even if you can swim, life jackets can save your life. Drowning is the number one cause of death in boating accidents, and 83 percent of those who drowned after an accident weren’t wearing life jackets. Make sure you have life jackets on at all times – and have enough of them for everyone who boards your boat.

  1. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

If you leave something on shore, especially if you’re heading way out in the ocean, getting a replacement can be nearly impossible. Write out a checklist before you leave the ramp to ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy your deep-sea exploration. Include things like food, water, clothing, towels (if you’re planning to go swimming), a first aid kit and of course, sunscreen.

We all started as boating beginners once. Don’t let that keep you away from the water. Start by finding someone to teach you the basics and move forward from there.

10 Must-Have Winter Survival Items

By | Survival | No Comments

We’re in for a strong El Niño winter this year, meaning lots of snow and lower temperatures across many of the states. While that’s no cause for panic, it is crucial that you stay prepared during this time of year. The following 10 items are at the top of the list for winter survival — keep them on-hand to stay safe and warm during a severe weather event.

1. Snow Shovels

Starting off the list is perhaps the most essential item for winter survival: shovels.

While anyone in an area that gets snow will almost certainly own a sturdy shovel, it is essential that you keep yours in good shape, especially during winter weather advisories. Also, be prepared with a backup shovel or two, just in case one of them breaks. Shovels are your most reliable way of excavating your house, keeping the driveway and steps free of snow and ice and creating an easy escape route during an emergency.

2. Car Blanket

Some of the worst winter emergencies can occur when you’re driving. It’s easy to hit a patch of black ice or catch your wheel on a snowdrift. Even if the incident isn’t too severe, there is always a chance you could be stranded far from help and need to hunker down in your car for a while. Keeping a warm blanket in your vehicle for these occasions is the best way to stay warm until help arrives.

3. Food

Getting to the store during a snow-in can be nigh impossible, especially if the plows haven’t arrived your street yet. Make sure you have a supply of canned or nonperishable food that doesn’t rely on electricity to eat. Trail mix, beef jerky and canned veggies and beans are all excellent options for this type of situation. Be careful to eat the perishable food in your fridge first, as there is a high probability you will lose electricity during a storm.

4. First Aid Kit

Accidents happen. When they do, and there’s no reasonable way to get down the road to the hospital or doctor’s office, you need to have the materials necessary to make it through in your own house.

Having an extensive first aid kit will help you in any medical emergency you may run into when you don’t have any assistance. Be sure to secure extra medicine for any of your family’s pre-existing conditions or allergies. You can’t prepare for everything, but stock up with the essential bandages, antibiotic creams, scissors and a needle and thread.

5. Rock Salt or Sand

Your second step to shoveling should always be laying down a layer of salt or sand to keep yourself safe when heading out the door in the morning. More than 800,000 people are hospitalized due to slipping and falling each year — and that gets a lot worse if there are no usable roads to the hospital.

6. Flashlights

Like shovels, most people have a flashlight somewhere in their house. However, many people don’t know where exactly that flashlight is, and — ironically — could have trouble finding it once the lights are out.

Always have multiple flashlights stowed around your place, and keep plenty of extra batteries on hand, as well. A long-lasting flashlight with a good grip is your best option, as it won’t slip out of your hand and get lost in the snow. The Flateye is an excellent choice, as it fits well in the hand and has an excellent LED light. I personally have one of these, and it’s like having a car headlight in the palm of your hand. Super powerful, but also lightweight and easy to hold.

7. Winter Boots

Again, almost everyone has them, and almost everyone can benefit from maintenance and extra pairs.

Most people don’t go through the process of waterproofing their boots, which is a huge mistake once it becomes necessary to walk long distances through the snow. The heat from your feet and the friction of walking will cause snow to stick and melt on your boots, inevitably soaking your feet if your boots aren’t proofed. Walking to get help for an emergency or going into town after you lost your car in a ditch or snowbank is a lot harder when your feet are wet and freezing.

8. Water

There’s plenty of water around you when it snows. However, unless you want to go through the process of boiling and decontaminating all that snow, it’s a much better option to have bottled water or to fill up your own bottle ahead of a storm. Pipes freeze, and losing your supply of fresh water can be a deadly inconvenience.

9. Books

Part of surviving a winter event is dealing with the boredom and cabin fever that inevitably comes after hours of being cooped up inside without electricity. Luckily, if you have plenty of candles and flashlights available, a book or two will last you through the worst of the event. Even people who aren’t big readers can peruse some magazines or other forms of old-fashioned entertainment. Board games are also a worthy investment.

10. Ice Scraper

Keeping your car in good working order is essential, especially if a real emergency arises. Make sure you have a sturdy ice scraper for removing the worst of the snow and ice from your windshield and door handles.

With another rough winter coming on strong, you’ll want to stay prepared for the worst mother nature can throw your way. Keep these 10 items in mind as you gather your supplies to ensure personal safety, warmth and comfort through the worst winter times.

How to Get Ready for a Major Snowstorm

By | Survival | No Comments

Winter is coming on, and many areas of the U.S. are already hunkering down through their first major snowstorms. Many of us are new at snowstorm prepping — having just moved from a city, down south, or into independent living for the first time — and snowstorms can pose a daunting challenge to the unprepared. However, prepping for a foot or two of snow is actually much easier than you might expect. Here are a few ideas.

1. Snow Removal

Snow is an obstacle: it clogs up your driveway, covers your steps and otherwise prevents you from going about your day. Having a plan — and the proper tools — for getting rid of the snow should sit near the top of your prep list. Check your weather channels and have an understanding of how much snow is expected, both for the specific storm incoming and for the region throughout the year.

Many areas experience only light snows and won’t require much more than a shovel and some rock salt. However, even light snow can be a huge nuisance if you aren’t able to remove it: it can ice your windshield, soak your shoes and make your normal path treacherous and slippery. So make sure you load up on the rock salt, shovels — or even a snow blower, depending on your geography — and car brushes well ahead of the storm.

2. Tires

It’s hard to overstate the importance of snow tires. The thing is, snow tires are not really location-dependent. Assuming you are in an area that receives any snow, tires are a good — and often necessary — option. Even an inch or two of snow can have cars sliding around the roads, spinning out into ditches, and otherwise causing mayhem.

Furthermore, areas that don’t experience much snowfall are usually the areas least prepared when the snow comes. Having a good pair of snow tires can be the difference between getting to work on time and spending your day waiting for a tow.

3. Emergency Prep

Those of us not living in metropolitan areas should spend some time preparing for the worst. While snowstorms are usually not life-threatening in and of themselves, the chance that you’ll be snowed in and unable to safely get to the store remains a looming possibility throughout the winter season. Again, this is highly location-dependent: those living in rural areas should implicitly understand the importance of stockpiling food when the flakes start to fall.

A few other things to keep in mind: power lines are susceptible to going down during large snowstorms, especially in rural areas. Investing in a generator is often an excellent idea. Rentals, also available for the days the storm is at its worst, may save you some money if you don’t expect regular snowstorms. Beyond this, it is also imperative to make sure your heating is in order and to go through the proper steps to make sure it is winterized and ready for the storm.

Road conditions are also something to keep in mind: even if your house is not buried in snow, poorly-plowed roads can stop you from getting to the store. Stock up on food before the storm.

Putting some cash and a few hours towards these three areas can really make the difference once the snow starts to build up. Personal snow removal helps you dig out from under the drifts and get about your day, while tires help you traverse the worst roads. Finally, when the time comes to hunker down, you want to make sure you are warm and safe and that you have plenty of food and water.

How to Survive a Winter Storm

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To quote a top-rated show and book series, winter is coming and with it comes winter storms. Depending on their severity, these storms can damage or destroy houses, knock out power grids, freeze water pipes and generally make life difficult. If you’re worried about getting through a storm, here are some tips and tricks to help you weather the winter.

Restock Your Storm Supplies

Getting to the grocery store in the middle of a blizzard might be possible if you’ve got the right accessories for your car, but even if you get there, chances are it will be closed. Take the time to restock your storm supplies before the temperatures drop. Ideally, you want to try to get to the store well before the panic sets in and the shelves are emptied of essentials like milk, bread and nonperishables.

A good storm supply kit should include:

  • Food: Nonperishables and things that can be prepared without the use of a microwave or oven are always good choices.
  • Water: If your pipes freeze or municipal water supplies fail, you will need to have water for each person in your house. Plan on having a gallon per person per day stored, or a way to purify water collected in the form of rain, sleet or melted snow.
  • Communication: Cellphones are only useful until the cell towers go out. Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to the local NOAA station for weather alerts.
  • First aid: Keep a fully stocked first-aid kit with your winter supplies.
  • Lighting: Flashlights, candles, and oil or kerosene lanterns are all useful tools to keep your home lit even if the power goes out.

Anything you won’t be able to access during the storm easily should be kept in your winter storm kit. This includes things like pet or infant supplies, and any prescription medication you will need for the duration.

Keep the Lights On

If you’ve got an electrical heating system in your home, it can be hard to stay warm during a storm that knocks out the power. Consider purchasing a generator or two for your home to keep power to your lights, heat and other appliances like your refrigerator running during the storm.

Make sure you don’t wire your generators into your home’s electrical system. It might seem like a good idea instead of running extension cords from the generator, but it can create dangerous feedback in the local electrical grid that could harm or kill linemen trying to restore power after the storm has passed.

Stay Warm

Brutally cold temperatures are one of the most dangerous things that accompany winter storms, so your primary focus should be staying warm. If you have a generator powering your home’s heater, keep it fueled. Also, keep your doors closed as much as possible. Every time you open the door to go outside, some heat leaks out — meaning your heater needs to work harder to keep the interior warm.

If you don’t have a generator and the power goes out, starting a fire in your fireplace can be a good alternative. Be careful and make sure your chimney isn’t obstructed by snow before you light a fire, or smoke and carbon monoxide could build up inside your home.

Be prepared to layer up with appropriate clothing if you don’t have heat. Again, keep the doors and windows closed. Your body heat will warm the room slowly, but only if you don’t open the door and let in cold air.

You can’t do much about winter storms other than being prepared for them. Restock your supplies before the storm hits and ride it out. Being ready is the best thing you can do survive a winter storm.

How to Stay Safe From Stinging Insects in the Woods

By | Hiking | No Comments

There’s nothing worse than heading out into the woods to enjoy a hike or a camping trip, only to end up stung by bees or wasps — especially if you’re allergic to the stings. How can you stay safe from stinging insects when you’re out in the woods?

Look for Signs

While bee and wasp nests might not be as obvious as other insect nests, you can look for some signs to indicate that there might be a nest in the area. Look for:

  • Large numbers of buzzing insects: Bees and wasps will frequently congregate around their nests, so if you see large numbers of either insect, avoiding the area is your best bet. You can often find the nest by watching the return flight of the insects.
  • Visible hives or nests: Some species of bees and wasps will build nests out in the open that you can easily spot. Look for piled mud with holes in it or papery constructions that could indicate the presence of stinging insects.
  • Wax or honey: Beehives often have a waxy appearance, and you may see honey as well.

It can take a keen eye to spot some of these signs — some bees and wasps make their nests in tree hollows, under the ground or in other less obvious spots, so if you’re not careful, you can stumble into one of their nests.

Listen for Buzzing

Take out the headphones and listen to the world around you when you’re out in the woods. When you’re getting too close to a nest, regardless of the type of stinging insect that calls it home, you’ll likely hear an increased buzzing sound. This noise is the insects’ way of warning you away before they come out in force to chase you away from their home — but it can only work if you’re able to hear the buzzing before it’s too late.

Identify the Insects

Some stinging insects are more aggressive and dangerous than others, so your next step is to identify the insect that you’re dealing with. Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Honey bees: Honey bees are small, often fuzzy, and may look yellowish from the pollen that they carry on their body. They aren’t very aggressive unless you’re dealing with Africanized honey bees, and they won’t sting unless threatened. Honey bees will actually die after they sting you, so they don’t like to sting unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Bumblebees: These bees are bigger than honey bees but just as furry. They may bump into you when you’re walking, especially if you’re wearing bright colors or perfumes that make them think you’re a flower. They’re not aggressive and won’t bother you unless you bother them.
  • Wasps: These insects are larger than bees and tend to have much slimmer bodies. They can be aggressive if they feel that their nest is threatened and can sting multiple times without stopping.
  • Yellowjackets: Yellowjackets are small — about half an inch long — and won’t become aggressive unless they feel like you’re threatening their nest. They tend to build their nests underground, though, and it can be easy to stumble into one if you’re not careful.
  • Hornets: Hornets are much more aggressive than yellowjackets, and they’re also very territorial — if they feel like you’re invading their territory, they will attack.

If you’re dealing with bees or bumblebees — or even some wasps and yellowjackets — all you need to do is avoid the nest. If you encounter hornets, your only option is to get out of their territory.

Run

If you inadvertently disturb a nest of stinging insects, you’ve only got one option — run! If they sting you, the stinging insect will release an alarm pheromone that will entice other bees or wasps to sting you as well.

Run, but don’t flail, and don’t swat at the bees, even if they’re stinging you. Dead bees release more pheromones that will call more insects to you. Instead, pull up your shirt to protect your face, then run and seek shelter. If you’re out in the woods, just keep moving until the bees stop stinging — this distance can be as little as a quarter mile or as much as multiple miles, depending on the species.

Whatever you do, don’t jump in the water — the bees or wasps will simply wait for you to come up for air, then continue stinging you.

Be Prepared

If you’re allergic to bee or wasp stings, even if you’re careful to avoid any nests, it’s always important to be prepared. Carry an EpiPen with you to counteract the allergic reaction to the stings, and call emergency services for advice as soon as you’re safe.

Being prepared can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. You may still require medical attention after using the EpiPen, so make sure you’ve got emergency services on speed dial.

When you’re out in the woods, you’re entering the territory of bees, wasps and other stinging insects. Keep that in mind, and make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings. Avoiding nests and hives is the best way to avoid stinging insects on your next hike or camping trip.

Seven Tips for Camping by Yourself

By | Camping | No Comments

Camping with friends and family is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and connect with others. Sometimes, though, a camping trip by yourself is just what the doctor ordered. You can take more time to relax, experience nature, reflect on life and do the things you want to do — all without the stress of group disagreements and worrying about others.

Solo camping is a different beast than group camping, though. You have to do everything yourself, and you need to be more careful because if something happens, no one will be around to bail you out.

With proper preparation, a solo camping trip can be an ideal way to get away. Here are seven tips for going it alone on your next excursion.

1. Work Your Way Up

Going by yourself for your first camping trip is not a good idea. You should have some experience with others under your belt before you try to go solo. Reading camping books and other educational materials can’t prepare you in the same way that experiencing things firsthand can. Make sure you’ve logged some solid camping hours, have learned from someone with experience and are confident in your abilities before striking out on your own.

2. Brush up on Your Skills

In group camping situations, whoever has the most experience in something tends to take charge whenever that task comes up. If you need to navigate while hiking, for example, the person who knows their way around a map or compass best usually leads the group. Unless you make a conscious effort to learn the skill of navigation, you may have never really had to do it.

When camping by yourself, you’re going to need to take charge of everything. Brush up on your outdoors skills before you head out for your trip so you know you can do everything. Even if it’s something you’ve been around before, practice to make sure you can complete the task yourself with no direction or help from others.

3. Let Someone Know

You should never leave for a camping trip without letting someone at home know about the details of your trip. Tell a trusted friend or family member when you’re leaving, when you’re coming back and when you’ll be able to check in throughout your trip. You should also tell them your location, and if you’re hiking, give them a route plan. If you don’t check in when you said you would, that person can try to contact you and alert emergency services if necessary. Because they know your location, they’ll also know where to look for you.

4. Pack Light

When you’re out in the woods by yourself, there’s no one to help you carry your pack if it gets too heavy. Because of this, it’s especially important to pack light when going on a solo trip. Consider bringing a hammock rather than a tent, water purification tablets instead of a filter and other lightweight options.

5. Plan for Emergencies

It’s important to be prepared for emergencies whether you’re camping in a group or on your own. The difference when you’re solo is that you need to carry everything yourself. Don’t skimp when packing first aid materials and other emergency supplies — you don’t want to be caught without them. You should also bring a signal whistle and an emergency communication device such as a satellite phone or personal locator, so you can call for help if you need to.

6. Bring a Book — or Write One

When camping on your own, although you might strike up some conversations with fellow campers, you won’t reliably have someone to chat and share stories with. You might also end up with spare time, especially when the weather is bad. While one of the joys of camping solo is the time you can spend quietly enjoying nature and reflecting on life, sometimes you might want a break from that, especially when the sounds of nature get a bit creepy as you’re trying to fall asleep.

A good, uplifting book is the perfect remedy for all of that. You might even want to bring a journal to jot down your thoughts and some notes about your experiences.

7. Prepare Yourself Mentally

When camping solo, you’ll be spending a lot of time alone with your thoughts. And when you don’t have someone else to help calm you down, difficult situations can be even more stressful. Before you head out on your trip, it’s important to take some time to prepare yourself mentally for these challenges. Find something that helps keep you calm, whether it’s deep breathing, thinking about fond memories or whistling your favorite song, and keep that antidote in your back pocket so you can pull it out whenever you need it.

Camping by yourself is an experience that comes with different challenges than camping with others. With a bit of preparation though, you’ll be ready to clear those hurdles and experience the many joys that are unique to solo camping.

How to make it through the 5 most common survival situations

By | Survival | No Comments

No one wants to think about being stuck in a survival situation but when it comes down to it, being prepared could mean the difference between life and death — and we mean that literally. Here are some tips and tricks to help you learn how to be prepared in the five most common survival situations.

No Water

During an emergency, it’s entirely possible that the water services to your home will fail. The human body can only function for about three days without water, so it’s important to have backup supplies available. For this, you’ve got two different options:

  • Keep Bottled Water in Your Home: Keep in mind that you will need a minimum of one gallon per person per day — half for drinking and half for hygiene needs and washing. Now, this is potable or drinkable water. If you want to use your flushing toilet during this survival situation, you will need a bucket and some water — it doesn’t necessarily need to be clean or drinkable. Use the bucket to fill your toilet tank, and you’ll be able to flush.
  • Keep Water Filters or Purifying Materials on Hand: These take up less space but require that you have a nearby source of water to treat. Iodine tablets, bleach or portable filters like the Life Straw can all help remove contaminants like bacteria even from natural water sources, making them safe to drink.

Ideally, you’ll want to have both of these options covered in case of an emergency. Make sure you rotate your bottled water once or twice a year to ensure it’s clean and safe to drink. Individual water bottles might be more convenient, but for long-term storage, you’ll want to store your water in opaque green or blue containers.

Fire

Fires can spring up without warning within your home, or rage throughout your neighborhood, giving you very little time to prepare.

For house fires, you want to get out of the house as quickly and safely as possible. If there are any necessities or valuables within arms reach, grab them before you leave — but don’t put yourself at risk for anything. Think back to your elementary school fire safety classes. Stay low to keep your head out of the smoke and check each door for heat before you open it. House fires can move fast and unpredictably, so the goal should be to get out of the house as quickly as possible.

Wildfires are an external threat, but they can move just as fast and unpredictably as house fires. If you’re told to evacuate, do so. Unlike house fires, you’ll usually have enough time to collect a few important belongings — such as important paperwork like car titles, photos and birth certificates — as well as some supplies. If you live in a fire-prone area, you should have a bug-out bag — prepared emergency supplies you can quickly grab if you need to evacuate.

Winter Storm Power Outage

Most powerful storms cause power outages, whether you’re in the path of a hurricane or a blizzard. Winter storm power outages are more dangerous, though — in addition to the wind and snow, the storm also brings freezing temperatures that can get dangerous or deadly quickly.

If you’re in the path of a winter storm and you’re not evacuating, make sure you’ve got a good emergency supplies kit ready before the storm arrives. This should include a first aid kit, bottled water, nonperishable foods and any prescription medication you might need during the storm. In some states, when the governor declares a State of Emergency, you can get an emergency 30-day supply of your medications, regardless of how recent your last refill was.

You might also want to consider investing in a generator to power things like your home heating and water pump. This could help prevent dangerous low temperatures in your home, as well as prevent your pipes from freezing inside your house.

Stranded

Getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is more than an inconvenience — it can be downright dangerous depending on your location and the weather conditions.

One good rule of thumb is that if you don’t know where you are, stay near your car. It will be easier for tow or rescue crews to find you if you’re near your brightly colored vehicle. Turn on your hazard lights, too.

If it’s cold out, stay in the car as much as possible, but don’t run the engine unless you’re sure the tailpipe isn’t blocked by snow — running the car with a blocked tailpipe will cause dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide to build up inside your vehicle.

Consider keeping a pack of emergency supplies in your car, as well. Include food, water, a first aid kit, a toolbox with some basic tools and some extra clothes or blankets in case you get stranded in cold weather.

Driving into Water

Vehicle submersion accidents aren’t as common as you might think, but if by some twist of fate you end up in the water in your car, knowing what to do could save your life.

As soon as you hit the water, roll down your windows. Yes, it will let more water into your car, but even with the windows closed, your cabin will fill up in about 90 seconds, and having open windows will give you a way to escape the car. Once the windows are down, take off your seat belt and get out of your vehicle.

If you can’t get the windows down, try to kick them out. You probably won’t be able to open the doors until the water pressure equalizes, but that means the car is full of water. If you can’t break a window, this can save your life, but you’ll have to hold your breath.

Keeping a seat belt cutter and window breaker in the car where you can easily access it from the driver’s seat can be a useful tool, too, if you don’t have enough leg strength — even boosted with adrenaline — to kick out the windows.

Knowing what to do in these common survival situations can save your life. Always be prepared for everything that life might throw at you, and you’ll never be surprised.

How to Avoid Getting Stung While Hiking and Camping

By | Hiking | No Comments

Hiking and camping are great ways to spend some time outdoors, but when you’re in the great outdoors, you do have a few things to worry about — like bees, wasps and other things that sting.

If you’re heading out into the wild, what can you do to avoid getting stung or letting insects put a damper on your trip? Here are four tips.

Dress Appropriately

Bees and wasps aren’t looking for you — they’re looking for flowers to collect nectar from and pollinate. So, don’t look like a flower. When you’re dressing for your trip, avoid things that attract bees and other pollinators, like dark colors or shiny jewelry.

If you need to use lotion or sunscreen, choose unscented options. Even artificial floral scents can be enough to attract bees and wasps, increasing your chances of getting stung.

Know Your Bees and Wasps

There is more than one type of bees and wasps, and some are more dangerous than others. Here are the main ones you should be familiar with:

  • Honeybees: Honeybees are the ones you see flitting around in your flowers. They live in large colonies, and their honey might sweeten your morning tea. They don’t sting unless threatened — if they do, their stingers rip from their bodies, and they die soon afterward.
  • Bumblebees and Carpenter Bees: Bumblebees and carpenter bees are big and fluffy and might bump into you while you’re hiking, but they’re not dangerous unless they feel threatened. They can sting, but they won’t unless you mess with them.
  • Wasps: Wasps are a bit trickier. They’re more aggressive than bees, so encountering them on your trip has a higher chance of resulting in a sting. You’ve probably seen paper wasps and mud dauber wasps around your house. The former builds an umbrella-shaped nest of a paper-like material, while the latter will build nests from mud.
  • Hornets and Yellow Jackets: Hornets and yellow jackets are more aggressive and can be very dangerous if you stumble into their nests. Avoid these at all costs. If you see a hornet or yellow jacket, pick a different path.

This is a basic definition of these insects — you may also encounter some unique bees or wasps that are native to your area depending on where you’re hiking, so make sure to do your research before you head out.

Skip the Music

If you’re hiking alone, you’re probably used to listening to music while you hike, but this could be dangerous. If you have headphones in, you won’t be able to hear the buzzing of bees or wasps if you get too close to their nests. Bees, especially, will try to warn you away from their nests rather than stinging you by buzzing loudly or bumping into you as you get too close to their home.

Run Away!

If you run into a beehive or a wasp’s nest, the best thing you can do is run.  If you stay put, they will continue to sting you. Even if you’re not allergic to bee stings, an attack from enough of them can be fatal.

Most bees will give up the chase after a quarter-mile to a half-mile. While you might get a few stings, you won’t get enough to be seriously harmful.

Don’t jump into the pool or another water source, though. You might get rid of the ones on your skin, but the rest of them will wait until you surface and start stinging you again.

Keep in mind that when you’re hiking, you’re in the bee’s neighborhood. You wouldn’t like it if someone stumbled into your home, so make an effort to avoid stumbling into their house while you’re hiking.  They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

Why You Should Go Exploring on the Water

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Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of these last few weeks of warm weather before it gets too cold to spend time out on the water. If you haven’t gotten out on the water this summer or your boat has been languishing in dry dock, why should you spend some time exploring out on the water before the weather gets cold?

Victorian Prescriptions

If you went to the doctor in Victorian England for anything from a common cold to mental health issues, you’d probably get the same prescription: sea air and regular dunkings in cold sea water.

In theory, nearly drowning in the cold water triggered your body to release adrenaline — revitalizing you and healing a variety of different maladies.

While there are plenty of conditions that really wouldn’t benefit from repeated near-drownings, that doesn’t mean being on the water doesn’t have its benefits.

Benefits of Exploration

A number of studies have found that people who live near the coasts, regardless of their country of origin, are generally happier and healthier than those who live farther away. We’re even willing to pay more for waterfront property. According to real estate data, just being able to see the water from a house or apartment increases the property’s value by 116 percent.

Why does being near or on the water make us happier?

If you ask 10 different people that question, you’ll get 10 different answers. For some, it’s because large bodies of water like the ocean are endless and powerful and it helps to put things into perspective. You’re small compared to something like the ocean, and that makes your problems small. Small problems are easier to manage.

Others state that the water helps to calm them down, or helps them separate themselves from the crazed hustle and bustle that makes up most of our lives. It can even help some people fall asleep, which is why white noise machines with rain or river sounds are so popular.

How to Get Started

If you’ve never piloted a boat before in your life, heading out on the water might seem a bit intimidating. But you don’t need to be a pirate or a ship’s captain to explore the waterways near your home or even farther away. Start small. You’re not going to pilot a yacht with no experience, no matter how good the yacht’s insurance is.

Get a hang of piloting a boat by starting with something small, like a dinghy with a little outboard motor or even a rigid inflatable boat if you’re using it to hop between islands.

Whether you’re heading out on the lake or trying to circumnavigate the world, getting out on the water can be a great way to feel happier, get your head together, or just shed the stress of a rough day at work. Just go to the beach and spend some time listening to the waves — you might be surprised by how much better you feel afterward!

Tips for Buying Your First Boat

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Summer is almost over, which means it’s the perfect time to consider buying the boat you’ve had your eyes on all season. Whether you’re tired of borrowing your buddy’s boat or just want to stop spending money every weekend on a rental, here are a few tips and tricks to help you through the process of buying your first boat.

First, Establish Your Budget

Before you start looking for a new boat, you need to establish a budget. Good boats aren’t cheap and cheap boats aren’t good, so figure out how much you’re willing to spend and how flexible your budget is. This will make it easier to keep yourself from spending too much money or mortgaging your house just to pay for your boat.

Figure out your budget first. Everything else will fall into place.

Next, Figure Out the Details

The next step is to figure out what kind of boat you actually want. Ask yourself a few questions, like:

What am I using the boat for? Are you planning on using it to go fishing on the weekends or to explore local waterways? Do you need something that can handle longer voyages out to sea? Do you need something with speed that can tow tubers or water-skiers, or are you content with something a little bit slower? Or are you looking for something with all-around performance?

Will I be spending long amounts of time on your boat? If you’re heading out for a day trip, you might not need somewhere to sleep. If you’re going to be on your boat for days or weeks at a time, you’ll need areas to sleep, shower and store your food.

Am I going fishing? If you plan to eat your catch, you’ll need a boat that is equipped to keep your fish cold or even frozen until you can get back to shore and put them in your freezer.

How big of a boat do I actually need? It’s tempting to go with the biggest option, but larger or more powerful boats may require additional licensing and insurance.

Do I want an inboard or an outboard engine? If you’re going to leave your boat at the dock, an outboard motor is a good option, because it can be lifted out of the water. If you’re planning to store your boat at dry dock or only use it in fresh water, inboard motors are fine.

Each of these questions holds a piece of the puzzle that will help you figure out which make and model of boat will be right for you.

Talk to an Expert

Once you’ve got a general idea of the type of boat you’re looking for and the budget you have available, your next step is to talk to an expert. They’ll be able to take the puzzle pieces you’ve pulled together and help you find the perfect boat to suit all your needs. They may even be able to help you figure out the answers to questions you haven’t even thought to ask yet.

Once you have a plan in place, searching for your ideal boat should be an enjoyable experience. Now you can start looking forward to those sunny days on the water next summer.