Going out on Monday? Some deer hunting safety tips

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The state Game Commission lists 12 accidental shootings and no fatalities that were self-inflicted or inflicted by another hunter during the 2011 Pennsylvania deer hunting seasons. Additional injuries and health problems occur each year among hunters.

The Allegheny County Health Department recommends the following precautions:

• Pennsylvania ranks in the top five states in vehicle-deer collisions. Drive carefully to and from your hunting site.

• Avoid carbon monoxide hazards by making sure your hunting camp's heating appliances are properly vented, flues and chimneys are clean and the building is well-ventilated.

• Before the hunt, ask yourself, "If I get one, do I really want to drag a deer up that hill?" People with chronic diseases, especially heart conditions, should avoid strenuous activity.

• Don't use drugs and alcohol while hunting, and don't tolerate their use among your hunting party.

• Be seen. Wearing the legally required amount of fluorescent orange really does reduce hunting-related shooting accidents.

• Be ready for the worst. In your deer pack, stow water, high-energy foods, a cell phone, waterproof poncho, matches or a lighter, and a first-aid kit.

• Don't fall. Wear skid-resistant boots and follow all tree stand safety recommendations.

• All guns are always loaded. Always.

• Signal approaching hunters to ensure they know you're there.

• Multiple deer diseases are present in Pennsylvania. While none are contagious to humans, it's wise to always wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing your kill. Afterward, wash your hands, including fingernails, thoroughly with soap and water.

• With warm weather predicted for opening day, remember to keep the carcass cool by propping open the chest cavity with sticks or inserting bagged ice. Don't drive around to show off your harvest -- take a picture. Have the deer processed as soon as possible to prevent spoilage, using a processor permitted by the Health Department or the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

• When cooking venison, heat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.



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