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HooKooDooKu
07-28-2014, 16:43
I take my kids (as young as 6yo) on back packing trips with me to places like GSMNP. This obviously poses a danger to them should anything ever happen to me.

I've always taught them that we always leave an itinerary with someone that can contact authorities should we ever be late returning. I've also taught them to 'shelter-in-place' if anything ever happened to me rather than risking trying to find their way out of the woods on their own.

However, the GSMNP has bears, wild pigs, and coyote packs. After seeing a teen hiking around GSMNP with a can of bear spray, I've considered adding bear spray to my kids packs. The idea is that if something ever happened to me, they would have something more than just hiking sticks to defend themselves waiting for rescue.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Teacher & Snacktime
07-28-2014, 16:50
My trust of the application of good judgment by teens is very, very limited. I would envision bear spray "play" which like a loaded gun, can be lethal....certainly harmful. How funny it might seem to give a quick squirt into the face of a hiking buddy to see him squirm and hear him yell.....unfortunately to be followed with asphyxiation and chemical burns. Kids do dumb things, because they're kids....even the smart, responsible ones.

Besides, it might be better to arm him/her with information on how to deal WITH nature rather than try to control or contain it (which we can never do). Invest in a decent whistle and educate to reduce fear. It's time and money better spent.

HooKooDooKu
07-28-2014, 17:51
My trust of the application of good judgment by teens is very, very limited. I would envision bear spray "play" which like a loaded gun, can be lethal....certainly harmful. How funny it might seem to give a quick squirt into the face of a hiking buddy to see him squirm and hear him yell.....unfortunately to be followed with asphyxiation and chemical burns. Kids do dumb things, because they're kids....even the smart, responsible ones.

Besides, it might be better to arm him/her with information on how to deal WITH nature rather than try to control or contain it (which we can never do). Invest in a decent whistle and educate to reduce fear. It's time and money better spent.
Good point on the dangers of bear spray.

I have done what I can to educate my kids on dealing with wildlife (specifically what we do when we encounter bears), and they each have a whistle that is attached to their backpacks.

But my kids are not even teenagers, and I don't always take both with me. My youngest is only 8yo, and I'm thinking thru what is needed to best insure his safety should I somehow become incapacitated and the 8yo is alone miles from any trailhead.

Another Kevin
07-28-2014, 18:09
But my kids are not even teenagers, and I don't always take both with me. My youngest is only 8yo, and I'm thinking thru what is needed to best insure his safety should I somehow become incapacitated and the 8yo is alone miles from any trailhead.

One thing that helps to "ensure domestic tranquility" with my non-hiker wife is to carry a PLB and make sure that everyone in the party who is old enough to read the instructions knows where it is and how to set it off. Aside from that, if the kid sticks close to you, the likelihood of a bear problem is vanishingly remote, unless you're in grizzly country. Black bears in the East are a living, breathing logistical disaster, but considering the number of humans and bears out there, they virtually never attack humans.

TNhiker
07-28-2014, 18:13
My thoughts?

don't need it....

Bear attacks in the southeast are a very very rare occurrence.....

In the 15 years that I've been hiking in the park----and have seen a good number of bears----I've never even been close to havin a bear attack me....

i don't hike with it nor do I carry bear bells (another waste of money to me)...

keep in mind---most bear attacks are for one of two reasons----gettin between mama and cubs.....and for food..

id rather educate my kids on those two factors than to arm them with something that you know will try out on each other....

Teacher & Snacktime
07-28-2014, 20:29
But my kids are not even teenagers, and I don't always take both with me. My youngest is only 8yo, and I'm thinking thru what is needed to best insure his safety should I somehow become incapacitated and the 8yo is alone miles from any trailhead.

Even scarier to think of what a panicked little kid could do with a misaimed can of chemicals...self-infliction is even more dangerous due to proximity. Teach them a good "bear song" to both help alleviate fear and to chase away the timid bears. Snacktime and I sing to the tune of "Over There":

Over There, Over There, There's a Bear, There's a Bear Over There
We were out here hiking, yes out here hiking
when all of a sudden it was there.
So beware, say a prayer,
There's a bear, there's a bear over there.
We'll be leaving......oh yes, we're leaving
and we won't come back
while that bear is over there.

Snacktime is older than your guys, and substantially larger I'm sure, but that doesn't make him unafraid of the unknown. I've found that when he shows signs of tension or things seem "too quiet" in the woods, I'll start singing this. He'll join in soon and we'll both hike along a little faster (the cadence) singing this aloud and proud, and the nervousness subsides.

Our little guys are probably not as endangered by what's in the woods as we believe them to be, and if we don't transfer fear to them they will probably not develop it themselves. Anyway, little things like this help.

Feral Bill
07-28-2014, 21:28
This is what we use"
Since you asked:
(Please respect my copyright, no commercial use w/o permission)

Tune: Hello Mary Lou

Walking down the trail one day
Cast your big brown eyes my way
Looking at me like I was your lunch
Staring at your mighty jaws
Shining teeth and razor claws
I began to get an awful hunch

I thought hello Mister Bear, goodbye heart
Intestines, stomach, liver, kidneys too
Itís you, Mister Bear, tear me apart
So hello Mister Bear, goodbye heart

Earlier I caught the scent
Of a pile of excrement
Pepper spray and bear poop full of bells
Now itís starting to make sense
Wish I hadnít been so dense
Things for me are going not so well

I said hello Mister Bear, goodbye heart
Intestines, stomach, liver, kidneys too
Itís you, Mister Bear, tear me apart
So hello Mister Bear, goodbye heart

Looking up what did I see?
My pal getting set to flee
Said I ďto out-run bears you cannot doĒ
Looking tall and fit and thin
Speaking with a silly grin
He says ďAll I needís to outrun youĒ

And so hello Mister Bear, goodbye heart
Intestines, stomach, liver, kidneys too
Itís you, Mister Bear, tear me apart
So hello Mister Bear, goodbye heart

I got scared and dropped my pack
Didn't want to be your snack
Griz don't climb so I went up a tree
You stood up and looked around
Pulled that tree right from the ground
Can't believe what's happening to me

(alternate verse for east)
Iíve heard bears can't run downhill
So I took off with a will
Trying to save body, mind and soul
Now it seems that Iím mistaken
And Iím being overtaken
Bears canít run downhill but they sure can roll.

I cried hello Mister Bear, goodbye heart
Intestines, stomach, liver, kidneys too
Itís you, Mister Bear, tear me apart
So hello Mister Bear, goodbye heart

I'm a person, you're a beast
shouldnít matter in the least
Don't you think that we could just be friends?
I can see you disagree
Things are looking grim for me
I'm afraid that this must be the end

Also DR Seuss Waltzing With Bears

rocketsocks
07-28-2014, 21:38
I'm wondering if you can even legally give kids bear spray??? I like the advice I'm hearing here from others. I gotta agree also education is the way to go, But Hookoo, only you know your kids maturity level...but like Teacher says, kids do some foolish things every now and again. I'm sure there are parts of the Country where it is common place for kids to have and use spray, like that place out in CA. Mamuth lake maybe???...I'll bet those kids have been schooled in the ways of it's use....good topic. HooKooDooKou

HooKooDooKu
07-28-2014, 22:13
Our little guys are probably not as endangered by what's in the woods as we believe them to be, and if we don't transfer fear to them they will probably not develop it themselves. Anyway, little things like this help.
I know the boys are not in much danger when we go off in the woods. If I were really afraid, I wouldn't take them out there by myself.

But I also try to teach them a healthy respect for the dangers the back country presents (such as the inability to simply call 911 if someone gets hurt).

Taking them in the back country by myself presents the obvious danger that something could happen to me and they might find themselves effectively alone in the woods. To mitigate that risk, I've taught them the importance of leaving an itinerary with someone staying behind, 'sheltering in place' (for them) as being safer than trying to hike out of the woods alone, and I always try to make sure each person always has some water with them (so that the need to find water doesn't over-ride the need to shelter in place... perhaps for several days).

I recently saw a young teen (about 13) hiking in the woods with his father. I was also told a story by my older brother of the time he was using a payphone near Sugarland's Visitor's center late one evening and encountered a large enough pack of coyotes that he decided it was prudent to retreat to his car. Putting those two things together made me think providing them some means of defense against their relatively small size.

I know that at a minimum, if I did this, I would have to buy extra bear spray so that we could use it for some training purposes. I also think I my boy behave enough in the back country that "playing" with bear spray (at least not at their current age) would be a problem.

But at the same time, I can appreciate and will contemplate the suggestions made above that basically boil down to many believing the risks don't out weight the benefits.

HooKooDooKu
07-28-2014, 22:21
I'm wondering if you can even legally give kids bear spray???
I can't imaging any park ranger taking issue with a minor, under the supervision of an adult, possessing bear spray.

I did find this web page (http://www.mystungun.com/Pepper-Spray-Laws_ep_41-1.html) that seems to summaries pepper spray legalities for the various states. Add that to the fact that GSMNP rules specifically allow people to carry bear spray "for the strict purpose of protection against bodily harm from aggressive wildlife (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hiking.htm)", and it would seem that it would be legal, at least in GSMNP.

TNhiker
07-28-2014, 22:32
I was also told a story by my older brother of the time he was using a payphone near Sugarland's Visitor's center late one evening and encountered a large enough pack of coyotes that he decided it was prudent to retreat to his car




when i look up the definition for "story", i find this---"an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.".....

and that's what i think this is...

although they do exist in the Park and the area around the park (ive seen one in knoxville)-----ive never once heard of a coyote attacking anyone in the Park.......

its kinda instilling fear.......

Teacher & Snacktime
07-28-2014, 22:33
I can't imaging any park ranger taking issue with a minor, under the supervision of an adult, possessing bear spray.


No, they wouldn't fine the child....they'd take it away and then you'd be in trouble.

shelb
07-28-2014, 22:43
Our Boy Scout Troop used to have leaders who were freaked out about carrying bear spray every hike... What I noticed is that the kids were never educated because the adults felt the bear spray was the end-all.

When my husband and I started hiking some tried to convince us to carry it. We decided to learn how to react and how to educate the youth hiking -
NOTE: This pertains to the midwest and eastern US... I am not sure if the bears in the western US are different!

HooKooDooKu
07-28-2014, 23:00
when i look up the definition for "story", i find this---"an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.".....

and that's what i think this is...

although they do exist in the Park and the area around the park (ive seen one in knoxville)-----ive never once heard of a coyote attacking anyone in the Park.......

its kinda instilling fear.......

The conversation my brother and I were having at the time and the way the story was recounted didn't leave me with any feelings that he was making anything up.
As for coyote attacks in the park... yea, I've never heard of one. They seem to be pretty reclusive given that in all my hikes I've only ever seen one, and they were pretty skittish.

But then again, seldom do coyote's encounter lone children in the woods.

But I can still buy the argument that the odds of a 'bad' wildlife encounter are remote enough to possibly not out-weight the risks of carrying bear spray.

HooKooDooKu
07-28-2014, 23:12
No, they wouldn't fine the child....they'd take it away and they you'd be in trouble.
So long as we're talking 'bear spray' and not 'pepper spray', I don't think there is an issue with a minor carrying bear spray.

For one, the rules GSMNP has in place governing bear spray doesn't include any limitation to minors.
From the link I posted earlier:

Bear pepper spray may be carried by hikers within Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the strict purpose of protection against bodily harm from aggressive wildlife. It should not be applied to people, tents, packs, other equipment or surrounding area as a repellent. Bear pepper spray is a chemical formula designed specifically to deter aggressive or attacking bears. It must be commercially manufactured and labeled as "Bear Pepper Spray" and be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and individual states. Bear spray must contain between 1% to 2% of the active ingredients capsaicin and related capsaicinoids.

When I try to do an internet search for pepper spray regulations, there seems to generally not be many restrictions that I can find regarding minors. It would seem that only some states prohibit the sale of pepper spray to minors... but that doesn't seem to be a general rule.

So as best I can determine by looking for laws regaring pepper spray in TN & NC, and the rules published by NPS, it would seem that bear spray is legal for minors to carry in GSMNP.

BuckeyeBill
07-28-2014, 23:21
As a former law enforcement officer. trust me when I say the kids would only spray each other one time. As part of our training we had to take the full effect of pepper spray in the face. This convinced me to never spray anyone but a hostile subject. Even then you get fallout from them.

yerbyray
07-29-2014, 09:18
I'm wondering if you can even legally give kids bear spray??? I like the advice I'm hearing here from others. I gotta agree also education is the way to go, But Hookoo, only you know your kids maturity level...but like Teacher says, kids do some foolish things every now and again. I'm sure there are parts of the Country where it is common place for kids to have and use spray, like that place out in CA. Mamuth lake maybe???...I'll bet those kids have been schooled in the ways of it's use....good topic. HooKooDooKou

NEW JERSEY: Legal with restrictions.

Any non-felon 18 or over may possess for the purpose of self-defense "one pocket-sized device which contains and releases not more than three-quarters of an ounce of chemical substance not ordinarily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury, but rather is intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or disability through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air". Section 2C:39-6i.

In Tennessee....its just listed as "Legal" son no age restrictions

Where I live in NC...NORTH CAROLINA: Legal with restrictions.

Possession and use of self-defense sprays is lawful for non felons so long as the device does not exceed 150 cubic centimeters (150cc). Section 14-401.6.

yerbyray
07-29-2014, 09:23
As a former law enforcement officer. trust me when I say the kids would only spray each other one time. As part of our training we had to take the full effect of pepper spray in the face. This convinced me to never spray anyone but a hostile subject. Even then you get fallout from them.

It's the same here in NC. I never have understood the logic with spray or tasers....to be qualified to use, you gotta be a guinea pig with it. Thank goodness that doesn't apply to sidearms :)

I have a six year-old daughter and we go hiking and she is getting into overnighter trips this year. I honestly hadn't thought about arming her with OC spray but I think that I will. A good logical fact-based lecture about the "do's" and "don't" of the stuff should be enough to keep fratricide to a minimum.

Like you said, one good whiff of it and no one would want another.

HooKooDooKu
07-29-2014, 09:57
Several months ago, someone posted a link to a video where a guy talked about bear safety and showed the proper use of bear spray. Anyone still have a link to that video? It would be a great addition to this thread.

TNhiker
07-29-2014, 09:59
to be qualified to use, you gotta be a guinea pig with it.



yup.....

we (wbir) did a story many a year ago about one of our local sheriffs departments training with tasers...

my reporter was too much of a p*ssy to take the tase-----so i did it......

i would never do a pepper spray though----as the results of that last longer than a 3 second tase.....

Teacher & Snacktime
07-29-2014, 12:33
It's the same here in NC. I never have understood the logic with spray or tasers....to be qualified to use, you gotta be a guinea pig with it. Thank goodness that doesn't apply to sidearms :)

I have a six year-old daughter and we go hiking and she is getting into overnighter trips this year. I honestly hadn't thought about arming her with OC spray but I think that I will. A good logical fact-based lecture about the "do's" and "don't" of the stuff should be enough to keep fratricide to a minimum.

Like you said, one good whiff of it and no one would want another.

Please, please, please talk to someone who sells the bear spray. "One good sniff" of this extremely highly concentrated pepper spray can be fatal to a 6 yr old. This is designed to deter a bear with a body mass and strength up to at least 5 times that of a 6yr old....and to do so from a distance. This product is for emergency use only, and how careful can you expect a panicked 6 yr old to be when wielding this? You might as well be talking about a gun considering the potential danger of this spray if misused.

You cannot "train" a young child to react logically and effectively in a life/death emergency without instilling fear into that child. The responsibility to perform is more than they can or should have to handle. They need to rely on others to protect them at that stage, and training them "in case" they're alone will only bring about a fear of abandonment and insecurity.

rocketsocks
07-29-2014, 13:48
NEW JERSEY: Legal with restrictions.

Any non-felon 18 or over may possess for the purpose of self-defense "one pocket-sized device which contains and releases not more than three-quarters of an ounce of chemical substance not ordinarily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury, but rather is intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or disability through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air". Section 2C:39-6i.

In Tennessee....its just listed as "Legal" son no age restrictions

Where I live in NC...NORTH CAROLINA: Legal with restrictions.

Possession and use of self-defense sprays is lawful for non felons so long as the device does not exceed 150 cubic centimeters (150cc). Section 14-401.6.Thare ya go, thanks for the info.


yup.....

we (wbir) did a story many a year ago about one of our local sheriffs departments training with tasers...

my reporter was too much of a p*ssy to take the tase-----so i did it......

i would never do a pepper spray though----as the results of that last longer than a 3 second tase.....I'd rather get hit with electrons than the spray, the spray would likely set my asthma off.

Once at a buddies house...party, and for reasons I wont go into, I put a electric dog collar around my neck and started headin' for the forbidden zone, when I cross the line it sent much more than a mild electrical correction to my brain...I've never wanted to repeat that action....nor be as drunk.

HooKooDooKu
07-29-2014, 13:49
You cannot "train" a young child to react logically and effectively in a life/death emergency without instilling fear into that child. The responsibility to perform is more than they can or should have to handle. They need to rely on others to protect them at that stage, and training them "in case" they're alone will only bring about a fear of abandonment and insecurity.
Teacher,
While I totally respect and value the opinion you bring to this discussion regarding bear spray, I've got to disagree with you on this particular point... that is unless you are using this argument to claim a child should not go into the back-country with a lone adult.

IMHO, when you take a child of ANY age into the back-country, you need to teach them a healthy respect for the potential danger that are present. If a lone adult is taking a lone child into the back-country, there is the very real and reasonable possibility that that child may find himself alone in the woods. The recent story about the Mt. LeConte rescue (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?105407-Mt-Leconte-rescue) demonstrates the point. A 'simple' stumble resulted in a man falling only 8' off a trail injuring his back such that he was unable to walk out of the woods. There are many places in GSMNP that a stumble can result in much more than just an 8' fall. Then there's the issue of possible health concerns (such as heart attack). It's rare, but it does happen with no way for you to control it. If you have a heart attack in the back country, your child will likely wind up alone in the woods.

Some parents deal with this potential danger by simply refusing to allow a child to go into the woods with a lone adult. While that's not the way I deal with the potential danger, I can respect parents that make that decision. And if the temperament of a child is such that you can not discuss the possibility of abandonment without bringing about fear, then I would argue such a child should never go in the back-country with a lone adult.

But I think it would be foolish to ignore the danger posed by a lone adult taking a child in the back-country. I understand and respect the arguments that bear attacks and coyote attacks are so rare that the dangers of carrying bear spray may not out-weight the risks. But I've witnessed and read about too many hiker falls to ignore the possibility of a child finding himself alone in the woods if travelling with a lone adult.

Teacher & Snacktime
07-29-2014, 14:19
HooKooDooKu,

I actually fully support that children should go into the backcountry with a lone adult. Snacktime and I do it all the time, and I'm fully cognizant of the potential problems of my young man being vulnerable should something happen to me. My concern here though is with the idea of arming a child with both a weapon and information that they may not be, nor should they be prepared to handle at the ages we're discussing. Of course there is the potential danger of a child being left to their own devices in the event of something happening to the adult, but I believe the way to handle or prepare for this has to take into consideration the emotional well-being of the child. Six and eight year olds are too emotionally young to have to take responsibility for their own safety, and arming them for the purposes of self-protection is just frightening to me.

I did a little research on bear spray usage to reassure myself that I wasn't simply being an over-protective nervous Nancy about your kids, and I am now no more comfortable with the idea than I was before. Obviously these are your kids, and there is no question that your decisions will be based on what you believe will be in their best interest. I will leave the discussion here, but with one final request: please read this link and imagine yourself as a child in this situation. Are you clear-headed or panicking after having to go off alone following the disaster of losing your sense of security (you) in the wilderness? Are your reflexes reliable and your thinking clear enough to take into account safety factors in using your defense weapon such as aim, distance and wind direction? Aren't you more likely to scream and run away? If you have taken the time to put the ideas of the need for self-protection into the mind of a younger child, are you not instilling a fear of the same?

If you buy the child a SPOT and teach him/her to stay put and use the panic button, it's the greatest assurance that they will receive the help they need without putting the onus of armed self-defense on their developing psyches.

http://www.bearsmart.com/becoming-bear-smart/home/bear-deterrents/bear-spray (http://www.bearsmart.com/becoming-bear-smart/home/bear-deterrents/bear-spray)

rocketsocks
07-29-2014, 14:37
I'm inclined to agree with Teacher on the young ages being to young to fully understand and execute. Now early teens is another story, with they hit that age they are the best little generals, even enjoy following suite....then some strange happens when young men hit their late teens, say 17-still waiting :D they're freakin' off the hook, crazy mad men chasing girls, hehe

...just an observation, along with some flash back memory's streaming.

rocketsocks
07-29-2014, 14:40
I'm inclined to agree with Teacher on the young ages being to young to fully understand and execute. Now early teens is another story, with they hit that age they are the best little generals, even enjoy following suite....then some strange happens when young men hit their late teens, say 17-still waiting :D they're freakin' off the hook, crazy mad men chasing girls, hehe

...just an observation, along with some flash back memory's streaming.oh, and consequently do the DUMBEST stuff...

HooKooDooKu
07-29-2014, 14:42
I did a little research on bear spray usage to reassure myself that I wasn't simply being an over-protective nervous Nancy about your kids, and I am now no more comfortable with the idea than I was before. Obviously these are your kids, and there is no question that your decisions will be based on what you believe will be in their best interest. I will leave the discussion here, but with one final request:...
Teacher,

Don't leave now... please continue to contribute to this discussion as you see fit.

You've made some excellent points and you've been a great contributor to this discussion.

For that, I thank you very much.

Teacher & Snacktime
07-29-2014, 15:01
Teacher,

Don't leave now... please continue to contribute to this discussion as you see fit.

You've made some excellent points and you've been a great contributor to this discussion.

For that, I thank you very much.

HKDK,

Thank you....I'll stick around and contribute where I can, but this is not an easy thread for me. I have an overdeveloped imagination....or sense of empathy...that will make the images of what we've been discussing run around in my head without the buffer that most folk have that make things like horror movies tolerable. Every child is my own, and every child's fear I feel. If I can keep my head from exploding, I'll hang in there. :)

flemdawg1
07-29-2014, 15:06
One thing that helps to "ensure domestic tranquility" with my non-hiker wife is to carry a PLB and make sure that everyone in the party who is old enough to read the instructions knows where it is and how to set it off. Aside from that, if the kid sticks close to you, the likelihood of a bear problem is vanishingly remote, unless you're in grizzly country. Black bears in the East are a living, breathing logistical disaster, but considering the number of humans and bears out there, they virtually never attack humans.

I agree w/ AK. take a SPOT or other PLB, not bear spray.

HooKooDooKu
07-29-2014, 16:05
I've looked into SPOT before. I might have seriously considered if if the reviews at the time had been a lot more positive. Seemed like there were too many reviews claiming it wasn't reliable and even SPOT's own documentation had enough weasel statements to make it sound like you couldn't rely upon it in an emergency.

And then there is the cost... $100/year (minimum).


Then again, I've got to admit bear spray is more expensive that I expected (about $50/can).

Teacher & Snacktime
07-29-2014, 16:17
SPOT has improved significantly in recent years. Yes, the initial cost for the unit is $100 or so, but the subscription is less I believe. Anyway, they have a less expensive, more user-friendly model. It was fully planned that we'd invest in one for Snacktime, but he's old enough to handle self-rescue now as well as taking care of Grandma if necessary.

Another Kevin
07-29-2014, 16:25
I don't take a SPOT. I take a real PLB. It can't do anything but holler for help, but a real PLB gets through when a SPOT won't. More on my thinking at http://tinyurl.com/n23go7v .

Teacher & Snacktime
07-29-2014, 16:29
I think that's all a SPOT will do too, that and it has a button for daily "I'm fine" check-ins. I'm not married to either product, so I'd recommend whichever works better :)

Another Kevin
07-29-2014, 17:08
A SPOT is essentially a satellite text-messaging device, with the lower-priced ones limited to a handful of predefined message types. They need a service plan, and really provide few guarantees that a single message will get through, or that your position will be known, particularly in a box canyon or under dense tree cover.

A PLB uses a different system (the Search and Rescue Satellite [SARSAT] network, piggybacked on the weather satellites). It has a lot higher power (5 watts, as opposed to a few tens of milliwatts) in its radios, to penetrate tree cover. The satellites can triangulate it, even if the GPS signal can't get through. In addition to sending the 'HELP' message to the Air Force for relay to local authorities (with GPS location if it's got one), it also makes an obnoxious "whoop whoop whoop" sound on the aeronautical distress frequency so that any passing plane can hear it (and so that Civil Air Patrol can locate it). And it has a strobe on board as well. It's essentially the same device that a crashed plane or wrecked ship will use to signal for help, repackaged into a handheld form factor.

A lot of ham radio clubs do "fox hunts," which are competitions for who can find one of these (actually, a simulated one, operated on a different frequency) the fastest. That way, the hams are trained in case they need to find one for real. But most often, the GPS signal gets through and the authorities simply know where you are. Under ideal circumstances, they'll phone up your emergency contact, find that you're indeed on the trail, and have SAR ready to roll in about ten minutes from activation.

The one I happen to carry is from ACR (http://www.acrartex.com/products/catalog/personal-locator-beacons/resqlink-plb/). I've seen ones from McMurdo, Sporty's and Becker as well.

I can't really give a full product review, because I've never activated it. (And I hope never to need to!).

And I don't think of it really as a way to protect myself. If I'm in trouble on an extended bushwhack, it's a way to protect searchers. They can have a lot fewer people in harm's way for a lot shorter time if they know where I am. Searches are expensive and dangerous. Rescues are a lot less so once the subject is found.

The Old Boot
07-29-2014, 17:24
I'm going to stay completely away from the bear spray/no bear spray - kids should be taught/they're too young etc. etc. discussion.

One thing I noticed way back at the beginning of the discussion was someone having whistles attached to all the kids backpacks.

They'd really be much safer if the whistle was attached to the child, not the pack.

I wear mine on a lanyard around my neck from the minute I leave the trailhead to the minute I get back.

HooKooDooKu
07-29-2014, 17:38
SPOT has improved significantly in recent years. Yes, the initial cost for the unit is $100 or so, but the subscription is less I believe. Anyway, they have a less expensive, more user-friendly model. It was fully planned that we'd invest in one for Snacktime, but he's old enough to handle self-rescue now as well as taking care of Grandma if necessary.
The basic retail cost for the current generation of SPOT is $150.
The minimum annual subscription is $100/year (http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=129).
Then there are lots of optional add-ons (http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=110) like tracking and text messaging.

lemon b
07-29-2014, 18:16
Too much risk for something that isn't going to happen. Extra weight. Plus kids play around and someone innocent might get sprayed., and you get sued.

yerbyray
07-29-2014, 20:31
Please, please, please talk to someone who sells the bear spray. "One good sniff" of this extremely highly concentrated pepper spray can be fatal to a 6 yr old. This is designed to deter a bear with a body mass and strength up to at least 5 times that of a 6yr old....and to do so from a distance. This product is for emergency use only, and how careful can you expect a panicked 6 yr old to be when wielding this? You might as well be talking about a gun considering the potential danger of this spray if misused.

You cannot "train" a young child to react logically and effectively in a life/death emergency without instilling fear into that child. The responsibility to perform is more than they can or should have to handle. They need to rely on others to protect them at that stage, and training them "in case" they're alone will only bring about a fear of abandonment and insecurity.

I opted for the canine version as I think the odds of encountering a bear are on the slim side. A dog repellant model would work against dogs, coyotes, and annoying hippies. Smaller and easier to carry plus it is her favorite color. She will be instructed on it and I think it will sink in just fine. To date she has not dialed 911 unintentionally as she was taught the consequences of doing so; pepper spray will carry same burden of respect.

"C" has been raised to understand and be responsible, tolerant, and respectful unlike the "every kid gets a ribbon for going through the motions" balance of her classmates. Thank you Harper Lee for writing such a wonderful guide to raising a child.

lemon b
07-29-2014, 20:54
If one is that worried give them a small frame .357. wheelgun. Works better than mace and it doesn't have that toy like appearence or give the kid the idea hey it will only hurt for a few minutes .

Sarcasm the elf
07-29-2014, 21:50
If one is that worried give them a small frame .357. wheelgun. Works better than mace and it doesn't have that toy like appearence or give the kid the idea hey it will only hurt for a few minutes .

Reductio ad absurdum!

TNhiker
07-29-2014, 22:02
except a gun wont always stop a bear.....

from today's morning report..........


Glacier National Park
Hiker Shoots Bear On Park Trail


A 57-year-old Texas man was hiking alone on the Mt. Brown Lookout trail last Saturday morning when a bear charged him from below the trail. The man used his bear spray on him, then shot the bear with one round from a handgun he was carrying. Indications are that he hit the bear, which then ran away.

The hiker then headed back to the trailhead, encountering a volunteer backcountry ranger on the trail along the way. The volunteer notified park dispatch of the incident.

Rangers immediately closed the trial and began an investigation. They also staffed the trailhead in order to advise other visitors what had happened. Rangers and bear specialists began a search for the bear, which may be either a grizzly or a black bear.

The bear has not yet been found and the investigation is continuing. The trail remains closed.
Park visitors are encouraged to carry bear spray as a deterrent for a charging grizzly bear. No single deterrent is 100 percent effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved.

Teacher & Snacktime
07-29-2014, 22:17
"C" has been raised to understand and be responsible, tolerant, and respectful unlike the "every kid gets a ribbon for going through the motions" balance of her classmates. Thank you Harper Lee for writing such a wonderful guide to raising a child.

I don't understand the reference here....what has To Kill a Mockingbird got to do with this? Or is this a comparison of your daughter to Scout? I feel like I missed something here.

Sarcasm the elf
07-29-2014, 22:40
except a gun wont always stop a bear.....

from today's morning report..........


Glacier National Park
Hiker Shoots Bear On Park Trail


A 57-year-old Texas man was hiking alone on the Mt. Brown Lookout trail last Saturday morning when a bear charged him from below the trail. The man used his bear spray on him, then shot the bear with one round from a handgun he was carrying. Indications are that he hit the bear, which then ran away.

The hiker then headed back to the trailhead, encountering a volunteer backcountry ranger on the trail along the way. The volunteer notified park dispatch of the incident.

Rangers immediately closed the trial and began an investigation. They also staffed the trailhead in order to advise other visitors what had happened. Rangers and bear specialists began a search for the bear, which may be either a grizzly or a black bear.

The bear has not yet been found and the investigation is continuing. The trail remains closed.
Park visitors are encouraged to carry bear spray as a deterrent for a charging grizzly bear. No single deterrent is 100 percent effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved.

I believe he was only suggesting a .357 in order to point out the absurdity of giving a kid a weapon of any kind. (Not that I necessarily agree with this statement, it is just my interpretation of what he meant.)

I do agree with you that bear spray is the best option in general.

lemon b
07-30-2014, 04:48
Elf my point is both are a waste of weight. Being worried about bear attack is boarderline paranoid. People are much more dangerous and the odd easy to avoid. Plus add in the kid factor, their not even going to be able to get anything into play.

yerbyray
07-30-2014, 08:44
I don't understand the reference here....what has To Kill a Mockingbird got to do with this? Or is this a comparison of your daughter to Scout? I feel like I missed something here.

TKAM is the model that I have used to successfully raise my daughter.

Traveler
08-02-2014, 07:39
I do agree with you that bear spray is the best option in general.

The second best defense is to be slightly faster than the other guy...

Alligator
08-02-2014, 22:09
I take my kids (as young as 6yo) on back packing trips with me to places like GSMNP. This obviously poses a danger to them should anything ever happen to me.

I've always taught them that we always leave an itinerary with someone that can contact authorities should we ever be late returning. I've also taught them to 'shelter-in-place' if anything ever happened to me rather than risking trying to find their way out of the woods on their own.

However, the GSMNP has bears, wild pigs, and coyote packs. After seeing a teen hiking around GSMNP with a can of bear spray, I've considered adding bear spray to my kids packs. The idea is that if something ever happened to me, they would have something more than just hiking sticks to defend themselves waiting for rescue.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

You are stringing together two very unlikely events. The first is your incapacitation (highly unlikely) followed by the more extremely unlikely dangerous wild animal with harmful consequences event. Unless your rotting corpse is drawing in bears and coyotes, the two events together are an even smaller probability than the animal scenario alone. Not trying to be harsh there, but it's not particularly likely that their risk goes up significantly if you are incapacitated or not there. Not often you read about Dad having a stroke and child eaten by coyotes. Do YOU carry bear spray in the first place? If you do, then they won't need another one, just take yours. If not, you are recognizing the extreme unlikelihood of needing it.

Teach them not to go anywhere when lost. To stop, sit down and blow their whistle periodically. Make them understand that the farther they wander, the longer it will take to find them. Teach them to stay on the trail no matter what. They will be found almost immediately that way. If they don't see the trail, they are lost. Sit down and blow the whistle (which they have on their person, on the pack is extra, I agree with Old Boot. They might get lost going to the bathroom). Teach them to respond to someone calling their name if they are lost. They are never in trouble for being lost and strangers will be looking for them. Teach them how to behave around wild animals.

Smaller kids can't carry a full gear set to begin with. They need rain gear, warm clothes, and a light first. Of course water and some snacks. A sleeping bag and a trash bag are next. You can give them a Spot or PLB your choice but they better be able to stay warm first. And will they be playing with it? You bet. I tested giving possession of a Leatherman Micra recently and sure enough fingers were cut in the time it took to fetch water out of sight and after the lecture of "this is not a toy, only use this if needed, the knife is extremely sharp".

No Directions
08-03-2014, 07:35
Have you considered giving them an air horn? I would imagine blowing it at a bear at close range might send it running and it could serve dual purpose as a signalling device.

ChuckT
08-03-2014, 17:43
If one is that worried give them a small frame .357. wheelgun. Works better than mace and it doesn't have that toy like appearence or give the kid the idea hey it will only hurt for a few minutes .
IMHO This isn't even funny.

lemon b
08-04-2014, 07:53
Sorry chuck, one of those posts I wish I had not made.

Snowleopard
08-04-2014, 20:07
I'd say no bear spray for kids.

Are you talking about one 6yo or more than one child? If it's two kids over 6, the danger from animals is very very remote. Bear and coyotes have been known to attack lone children and small adults, but it is very very unlikely in the East. I don't think non-rabid coyotes would attack 2 kids.

Far more important is teaching them to take care of themselves in the woods -- keeping warm and fed, not getting lost, not wandering off if you are lost, blowing whistles. I used to take my niece into the local woods when she was around 6. I let her take the lead and it was her job to get us back (of course, I knew where we were and led us back if needed). It was a lot of fun for both of us.

If anybody is planning on bear spray, you can get practice canisters that don't have the pepper spray. I think it's silly for the East, except possibly pretty far north in Canada.

Hill Ape
08-05-2014, 01:19
four sons, only ever in black bear country. no way on gods green earth would i hand those idiots bear spray. the way they war i do not need to give them chemical weapons. i wish they would be quieter, the way they sound on trail any bear that hung out is deaf with no nose