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Atrium Health Navicent Physicians Encourage Safety During Hunting Season

Weapons and ATV accidents, falls from stands, and snake bites contribute to ER visits

Physicians at Atrium Health Navicent encourage hunters of all ages to observe proper safety precautions to minimize the risk of common hunting injuries this hunting season.

“Hunting can be fun, but it’s a sport that can also be dangerous if hunters don’t take safety precautions to prevent lifethreatening injuries,” said Dr. John Wood, medical director of the Emergency Center at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center. “Following basic gun safety rules can ensure both a safe and enjoyable hunt. Individuals should also wear helmets and other safety equipment while operating ATVs.”

Physicians at Atrium Health Navicent's emergency centers typically treat injuries during hunting season that fall into one of four categories: all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents, accidents with weapons, falls from tree stands and encounters with snakes.

ATV Accidents

ATVs are quick and heavy, and usually travel on unpredictable paths. Minimize the risk of accidents and injuries by following these tips:

• Wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, while operating an ATV.

• Choose an ATV that is appropriate for the rider's size and age. Adult ATVs are often too heavy and too fast for an adolescent to safely manage.

• Pay attention to your surroundings.

• Avoid paved roads. ATVs are not intended for streets, and collisions with cars are possible.

• Never operate an ATV while consuming alcohol.

Weapon Accidents

Whether hunting with a bow or a firearm, it is important to remember the following safety tips:

• Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

• Do not place your finger on the trigger unless you are preparing to take a shot. • Doublecheck to ensure the bullet's caliber is appropriate for the firearm.

• Archers should identify a safe background before releasing an arrow. Don’t shoot into the skyline.

• Archers should fully secure arrows before moving, even if only repositioning for a better shot.

• Wear orange while in the woods, to help other hunters identify you.

Stand Falls

Falls from tree stands are a leading cause of injury among hunters. If using a tree stand, bear the following in mind:

• Inspect the ladder steps and tree attachments prior to ascending the stand.

• If the stand is attached to a tree, inspect the tree prior to ascending the stand. The tree should be alive and healthy, without any visible rot or damage.

• Use a safety harness. Hook into the harness prior to leaving the ground and leave it attached until you return safely to the ground.

• Use a haul line to pull your unloaded weapon into the stand. Do not carry a firearm or bow into the stand or attach it to your body.

• Tell a friend or loved one where you will be, and when to expect you home. If an accident occurs, someone should know where to find you. Consider carrying a two-way radio or loud whistle to call for help, if needed.

Snake Bites

More than 40 snake species are found in Georgia, and of those, six types are venomous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Between 7,000 and 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year. Hunters who spend time outdoors will likely run into a snake from time to time.

Follow these tips to avoid potentially life-threatening encounters:

• Wear bite-proof boots and chaps.

• Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

• Do not place your hands or feet into any area where you cannot see.

• If you encounter a snake, back away slowly. Do not approach or provoke the snake.

• If you or someone in your group is bitten, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

• Adults should always supervise younger hunters.

"Hunting can be a wonderful way to enjoy the great outdoors, but it can also pose real risks to life and safety. The good news is that these risks can be avoided by taking proper safety precautions,” said Dr. Dennis W. Ashley, director of Trauma Services at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center. “Adults should also take care to lead by example and train the next generation of hunters to enjoy the outdoors safely.”

If an accident or injury occurs, seek appropriate medical treatment. For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency center. Atrium Health Navicent offers emergency care at the following locations:

• Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center (777 Hemlock St., Macon)

• Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital (888 Pine St., Macon)

• Atrium Health Navicent Peach (1960 Hwy 247 Connector, Byron)

• Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin (821 North Cobb St., Milledgeville)

• Monroe County Hospital, an Atrium Health Navicent Partner (88 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Forsyth)

• Putnam General Hospital, an Atrium Health Navicent Partner (101 Greensboro Road, Eatonton)

For non-life-threatening injuries, visit your nearest urgent care provider. Atrium Health Navicent provides urgent care at three Macon locations:

• Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care North (3400 Riverside Drive, Macon)

• Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care East (1339 Gray Highway, Macon)

• Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care Northwest (5925 Zebulon Road, Macon)

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent, the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Atrium Health Navicent provides care for health care consumers’ through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Atrium Health Navicent is dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit

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