Clothing

The weight of clothing proper to the trip will depend on the conditions likely to be encountered. But, rain or sun, cold or hot, the body should be covered: clothing is a necessary protection against sunburn, abrasions, and flying splinters of rock broken off by the collector's hammer. Sharp flakes such as these can blind an eye or cut an artery of the face or arm. Anyone who has seen a fellow collector streaming blood from this kind of cut has had sufficient warning to protect his body in the future. And anyone who has experienced the agonies of sunburn knows it is disabling.

Cotton or wool slacks for men and women; army-last high shoes with molded rubber soles, or good work boots well broken in and worn over two pairs of socks, one thin and one heavy; sturdy work gloves; and a hat or cap with a brim make up a sensible field costume. Clothing should be loose — large enough to allow easy movement in climbing and digging. Sunglasses and suntan oil will temper the brightness of midday, and safety goggles, safety shoes, and hard hats should be available for those occasions when work will be done among heavy rocks or along quarry walls. Federal regulations now require them for anyone collecting in a quarry.

Although they are recommended in many books, high boots are too heavy for most field use. Exposure to snakes would seem about the only excuse for wearing them. Rubber boots may occasionally be needed to collect in streams, on beaches, or in deep mud. The most effective way to adjust to the changing temperatures characteristic of mountain or desert regions is to have several weights of sweaters on hand. A lightweight nylon ski jacket gives excellent cold-weather protection. A pocketknife, a pocket first-aid kit, and insect repellent will be helpful on unexpected occasions. Soap for washing up after handling rocks should be included. Some minerals leave poisonous residues on the hands.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS IN THE FIELD

The perils and hazards of the great outdoors have been grossly exaggerated. The collector is safer clinging by hand on a cliff than he is in his car on a crowded highway. He will avoid most hazards if he will do three things:

1. Look over the collecting area with an eye to possible danger spots.

2. Keep a level head and rely on common sense.

3. Leave behind word about where he is going and when he may be expected to return. If he fails to return on time, rescuers can go looking for him.

Going alone into the mountains or desert is not common-sense behavior. A sudden storm or even a crippling injury is not half so terrifying when someone is with you as it is when you are alone.

The sensible collector learns to hasten slowly and gradually. He walks with a rhythmic step, putting each foot down firmly so that a loose stone will not mean a sprained ankle. He finds the easiest path and the most gradual slope. If he gets out of breath, he stops and rests, realizing that he is a sedentary worker suddenly turned outdoorsman, not an Olympic athlete, and that unusual exertion at high altitudes makes severe demands on a body unaccustomed and unacclimated to it.

Climbing and walking on difficult ground are much easier if the collector learns to control his body movements so that he is never off balance. Nasty falls can be avoided if, while climbing on rocks, he tests footholds and handholds before putting his full weight on them.

If there are several people in the party, the pace should be set by the physical ability of the slowest. If two or more collectors are together on stony slopes, they should stay close by one another so that dislodged stones will not endanger anyone lagging behind.

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