Traffic accidents and injuries are always a hazard of road transport and boat transport. Vans will abide by posted speed limits. Participants will not drive; only staff will operate vehicles and boats. You must always wear a seatbelt in a motor vehicle. You will be given a safety briefing before the boat departs and shown where life jackets and life rafts are located.
COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES
- All people must wear masks in vehicles at all times including participants, staff, and drivers.
- People will be spaced out as far as possible within the vehicle. This may involve multiple trips or larger vehicles.
- Drives will be limited to shorter routes and lengths of time whenever possible.
- Windows will be rolled down when conditions allow; AC with external airflow will be used when available.
- Many research activities will be done within walking distance of the accommodations in order to cut down on time in vehicles.
Hiking and Walking
You may be walking along a rocky coastline or on boat ramps, which are slippery when wet. Some areas are very well protected from the elements, while others are exposed. Participants are instructed to wear sturdy shoes.
You may have the opportunity to use a kayak to explore the coast as a part of a guided tour. You will be required to wear a personal flotation device (life jacket) at all times when using the kayaks. You will be assessed for level of comfort with water. If you are not comfortable or deemed comfortable by the facilitators and research staff then a separate on-land activity will be provided.
Insects and Plants
Poison Ivy, mosquitoes, flies, yellow jackets, wasps, ticks and spiders are present, and repellent along with long-sleeved shirts and pants can help protect from rashes, stings and bites. Ants can be very invasive, so keep your rooms clear of any food or drink, wrappers, wet towels, etc. All dangerous creatures will be discussed during the training period. Please alert Earthwatch of any allergies and medications associated with insects. Please see the CDC (cdc.gov) or WHO (who.int) websites for more information. Diseases present in this region of the US include, but are not limited to, Lyme disease and West Nile Fever.
You might come into close proximity with local wildlife. This could include snakes, raccoons, mice, deer, foxes, squirrels, coyotes, and rabbits. As a general rule, please keep your distance and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Please do not attempt to feed any of the wildlife.
Dehydration and sunburn are two major risks while in the field. You’ll be briefed on proper clothing, sunscreen use, and fluid intake. Project staff will monitor participants for symptoms of exposure or dehydration. Take particular care when working during the hottest periods of the day. Wet and windy weather is also a possibility while on the ocean.
Hands should always be washed after being in the field, especially before eating. Participants are encouraged to take regular breaks and to avoid over-exerting themselves. Teamwork and attention to proper technique will keep you from getting worn out or injured. Inform a staff member immediately if you are feeling tired or ill. Participants might be asked to carry heavy items. It is important to communicate physical limitations and to take breaks while carrying items.
Crime in Woods Hole is low; however, do not leave valuables unattended in public areas.
Distance from Medical Care
Medical and rescue assistance along the coastline is abundant. Falmouth Hospital and Emergency Room is about a 5-minute drive from the accommodations. Both the local police and fire stations are within 3 miles and the closest decompression chamber is located at Bourne Health Center, which is about a 21 minute drive by car from the accommodations. The Coast Guard also has a station located in Woods Hole, MA.
COVID-19 DISEASE RISKS
COVID-19 is an infectious coronavirus disease, which has caused a worldwide pandemic since its discovery in late 2019. Although most people who have COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness, COVID-19 can also cause severe illness and even death. Some groups, including older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk of severe illness. The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person via close contact, primarily through exposure to the respiratory droplets of an infected person.
Projects and participants approved to field during the COVID-19 pandemic commit to a number of enhanced safety measures described in the COVID Disclosure Form, including physical distancing, wearing face masks, regular hand washing and surface sanitizing, adjusted accommodations and transportation logistics, and daily health checks.