Field Safety

Table of Contents


Although a rainstorm may just seem inconvenient, a wet, drugged animal may not be able to regulate its internal temperature well. Check current conditions and weather forecast: In some cases localized flooding or even flash flooding is possible. Move to a sheltered area if heavy rain is expected. Florida is a very lightning-prone area. If you are close enough to hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning! To quickly estimate how far away a storm is count the seconds between a flash of lightning and thunder, then divide that number by 5 for the number of miles. Even heat lightning can be dangerous, it is just a thunderstorm where you cannot hear the thunder. In case of lighting seek shelter in a building or car (not a golf cart), avoid open areas and isolated tall trees. Field work may be postponed in case of extreme weather (flooding, severe storm). If someone is struck by lighting call 911 immediately and give first aid. Move the person to shelter.

More information on lighting safety can be found here: UF Lighting Safety

Working With Animals

Since you cannot always tell if an animal is sick by looking, treat each animal as if it is. Raccoons carry at least twenty pathogens of human significance, including rabies, Toxoplasma gondi, salmonella, and possibly Zika. 132 pathogens or parasites are known to affect raccoons. Wear disposable gloves, and sanitize all equipment between animals.

Dispose of sharps and bio-hazardous materials as detailed here

If you are Bitten or Scratched

Raccoons and other potenially rabid animals

Immediately and thoroughly rinse the area with soapy water and rinse with a povidone-iodine solution.

You must treat any bite or scratch as if it was from a rabid animal. This means sending the head of the animal for a necropsy, or getting post exposure vaccines. Domestic animals can be confined for 10 days for observation, in raccoons the length of time for symptoms to show is unknown. The pre-exposure vaccines do not mean you do not have to seek treatment, it gives you more time to get the shots and you will not have to get as many, or get the human immunoglobulin shot. People who have been previously vaccinated will not need the human rabies immune globulin and will need a shot the day of exposure and three days later.

Rabies Shot Locations

Memorial Hospital Pembroke
(954) 962-9650
7800 Sheridan St.
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024

Westside Regional Medical Center Emergency Room
(954) 723-1400
3476 S University Dr.
Davie, FL 33328

Miami-Dade Health Department
(305) 575-3800
Health District Center
1350 NW 14th St.
Miami, FL 33125

Passport Health. Multiple locations, but have limited hours.


There are six known venomous snakes in Florida, out of 44. Due to the very warm climate, it is possible for exotic venomous snakes to be found—even loose cobras. Even mildly venomous rear fanged snakes, such as hognoses, can cause hospitalization if the person is allergic to them.

In all snake bites the area should be cleaned and observed for broken, embedded fangs. Snake’s teeth are very thin and it is not uncommon for them to break off in skin, causing localized infection.

Attempt to identify the snake, but not so much you or someone else gets bitten! Seek medical help right away, especially if there are any adverse reactions. Dial 911 right away. Remove jewelry and watches so they do not cut off circulation due to swelling. The bite victim should remain as calm and still as possible, with the wound below the heart. Apply a loose bandage. Since medical help is located nearby do not apply a tourniquet.


In many, but not all, cases venomous snakes will have keeled scales, vertical pupils, a large nostril and heat sensing pit, large fangs, and a thick head. Coral snakes have bands of red touching yellow. This will not identify every venomous snake, but is a quick guide.
Venomous Snake Identification PDF

After treatment

It is possible for a person to be allergic to antivenom or develop serum sickness. You should report anything abnormal for the next two weeks to your doctor right away including include fever, chills, rash, headaches, muscle aches, joint aches, itching, and blood in the urine.


Ticks and mosquitos carry many diseases harmful to people. 30% DEET, and 20% IR3535 repel ticks and mosquitos. Wear loose fitting clothing and pants and long sleeves tucked in. Consider wearing a bug suit if the insects are especially troublesome.

Caterpillars, Ticks, Spiders

Frogs and Toads

Cane toads secrete a white toxic substance from their parotoid glands that is highly irritating to skin but fatal if ingested. Cuban treefrogs secrete a very sticky substance when handled. It is not poisonous, but can cause rashes and is irritating.