Safety in Our Streams

Before Monitoring:

  • If you would like some additional helpers, please contact the coordinator.
  • Make sure that someone knows the date, time, and location that you will be monitoring so that if you are injured, someone will know that you are missing or late in returning.
  • Find out the phone number of the nearest medical center to your monitoring site and the location of a pay phone should you need to call for help. Cell phones often do not work in stream valleys. You may have to climb to the top of the ridge to get reception.

Rules to Monitor by:

  • Never monitor when the water is at flood stage or is flowing much swifter than normal. It is better to delay your monitoring event than to risk drowning or broken bones.
  • During monitoring, keep your hands away from eye and mouth areas. ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS THOUROUGHLY WITH SOAP AND WATER AFTER MONITORING. NEVER EAT WITHOUT WASHING YOUR HANDS FIRST. Many of our streams have elevated fecal coliform levels. Do not monitor your stream with open cuts.
  • If the water appears to be polluted (strong smell of sewage or chemicals, unusual colors, dead fish) please postpone your monitoring.

To protect yourself, it is advised that you:

  • Wear rubber boots or waders to keep your legs and feet dry and to minimize contact with water. Rubber boots will also offer protection from ticks. It is better to wear old sneakers than sandals because they offer protection from glass and sharp rocks in the stream.
  • Wear rubber gloves to reduce contact with water and to prevent cuts from trash in the stream.

Snakes are of concern when monitoring in an aquatic environment, especially slow moving water with overhanging vegetation. Most snakes in aquatic environments are not poisonous. If you approach your site through thick high grass, thump the ground in front of you with a walking stick. Snakes will feel the vibrations and will move away. Snakes are deaf so load noises will not scare them away. The only poisonous snake in Virginia is the Copperhead. If you do not know what it looks like, take a look at the brochure enclosed as page 2.

In case of snake bite:

  • Remain calm. Take a few deep breaths and keep movement to a minimum.
  • Remove all jewelry and watches if bitten on the hand or arm. Snake venom may cause the area to swell.
  • Have your monitoring partner call 911 for help if you suspect a Copperhead bite.

Please read the brochure enclosed as page 2. If you do find a tick on your skin, remove it right away. To remove an attached tick, use tweezers to grasp the tick at the skin surface.