Field Protocols and Safety

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Guidelines for safety in field

These are some general guidelines—by no means comprehensive—for being safe in the field and to have a fantastic trip to your field site, whether in the forest, city, beach or island.

Instructions to team leaders

Please give a quick orientation to all members who join the team, and reiterate the sexual and workplace harassment policies (including the relevant committees that can be approached in case of complaints or conflicts) and the safety guide. Please provide them with the list of emergency contacts and emergency kits. Obtain the contacts of police/magistrate of the area where you work.

General rules

• Plan your field trips to the finest detail possible.

• If you are using any of the field stations of CES or a partner institution, familiarise yourself with the field station protocols and guidelines. These are binding.

• The team leader and/or team should visit/inform the local ranger/forest department/local authorities before commencement of work.

• You should acquire appropriate permissions (forest department, inner line pass if required) in advance before heading out to the field.

• Be aware of the nearest hospital with antivenom. Keep their phone number, and address and if possible, inform them that you are doing field work. Be aware of emergency procedures for snakebite in your team or at the field site. In case of emergency, contact Dr. Kartik Sunagar (7337833795) or the lab manager, Jaya (82773 219360).

• Always ensure that there is one or more contact numbers for an emergency vehicle to take you to the nearest hospital in case of any emergencies.

• Ensure that all of you have the following information on you at all times: emergency contact, your blood group and the contact of everyone else in team. Please take the effort to try and remember you team members blood type and allergy details, if any. The team leader should have this information for all team members.

• If you are using an institutional field vehicle, ensure that you are following all instructions and have the appropriate licences as well as maintenance. All field vehicles must have valid registration, insurance and pollution-under-control certificates. A vehicle log needs to be maintained and updated periodically while submitting fuel/travel bills during/after fieldwork.

• Maintain proper accounts and bills/accounting procedures for your field visit.

• Make prior arrangements for food and water: o Food requirements and logistics should be clearly planned before any field site visit keeping in mind any individual choices/preferences. o Ensure that the water quality is good at the field site. If muddy or bad, make alternative arrangements or make clay based filters. You may also carry tablets that can be added to make water potable. Another option are LifeStraw water bottles, available online.

In the field

• Please report to the team leader if you must head away from the camp for any reason, and you should be accompanied by field guides depending on distance and context.

• Ensure that someone from another team knows where your team is headed every day. Everyone in the team should know where everyone else is going.

• DO NOT walk ALONE in the forest at night. There are elephants, other large and potentially dangerous animals and snakes in many Indian forest landscapes.

• DO NOT walking ALONE in the forest even during the day. Take a field guide or another experienced team member when walking in forest. DO NOT leave preexisting trails because its illegal in protected areas and disturbs wildlife. Beware of elephants, other dangerous large mammals, and snakes!

• Avoid sleeping on the floor at night. DO NOT walk without a flashlight and without wearing closed shoes at night, not even to cover shorter distances.

• DO NOT handle snakes, scorpions or other animals (unless required for work). Do NOT collect any biological or physical material (unless you require it for your research AND have the relevant permits from the relevant authorities to do so).

• Check all shoes and socks before wearing them since scorpions and snakes may sometimes be found inside!

• Inform the team leader if you are allergic to wasp and bee stings. In case any of your team member is stung, keep them under close observation. If they are having difficulty in swallowing water or breathing, rush them to an emergency room/nearest hospital at the earliest. You may also carry EpiPen to the field, especially if you are in extremely remote areas. Cetirizine could also be used in case of minor reactions to the bee/wasp venom. Also note that most people will not be aware of their allergies to Hymenoptera venoms until they are stung.

• You must ALWAYS carry a water bottle, emergency food, and a torch; and an emergency kit if one is provided.

• DO NOT wear camouflage clothes in the forest as many of these places have issues of insurgency; both insurgents and army/other law enforcement officers wear camouflage fatigues and there is a possibility that you would be mistaken for either, with unfavourable consequences. Wear dull coloured clothes. Wear a HAT. Carry a raincoat.

• Wear shoes at all times during field work unless other footwear is more appropriate (it might be difficult to dive with shoes), such as flipflops on the beach.

Medical instructions

• A list of the nearest hospital along with their contact numbers to be maintained, especially those equipped to deal with snake bite.

• In addition, all students in the fields are encouraged to be up-to-date with their vaccinations. Updated tetanus for all fieldwork, and specialised vaccines for certain types of research (e.g., rabies vaccination for those handling mammals such as bats).

• Familiarise yourself with first aid protocols. The St. John’s Ambulance First Aid Reference Guide is a freely available online resource. You can also take an Emergency First Response course – Contact Prof. Kartik Shanker for more details.

Emergency kits


• Paracetamol 500mg or 650mg: Fever, headaches

• Ibuprofen 400mg: Aches and pains

• Omeprazole 20mg: Heartburn and gastritis

• Cetirizine 10mg: Allergies, itching caused by insect bites or stings

• Metoclopramide 10mg: Nausea, vomiting

• Co-Amoxiclav 1000mg: Antibiotic suitable for most skin and respiratory tract bacterial infections (one table every 12 hours for 5 to 7 days; full course to be completed once started)


• Surgical spirit: to ensure hands are clean while dressing wounds

• Latex gloves: to be worn while dressing wounds

• Roller bandages/Gauze: for wound dressing

• Cotton wool: for wound cleaning

• Iodine (liquid): wound cleaning

• Iodine (ointment): wound dressing

• Band-aids

• Surgical tape (e.g., 3M)

• Crepe bandage: for sprains


• Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS): to replace fluids lost from diarrhoea or dehydration

• Odomos (or other insect repellent), especially in areas with disease carry mosquitoes

• Lacto-calamine lotion for local application on itching insect birds

• Diclofenac ointment or spray for local application on sprains, etc. (instead of Ibuprofen tablets)

• Digital thermometer with extra batteries

• Freeze-dried snake antivenin: 20 vials; to be carried to the nearest hospital in case of snake bite). Do not attempt to administer antivenom on your own – side effects can be life-threatening.

• EpiPen: For life-threatening allergies cause by bee/wasp stings

• Any prescription medications taken (with extra buffer stock to cover unforeseen delays in existing field)

• A periodic check (every three months) is essential to replace medication that has expired (beyond its last usage date).

Check-list for field trips

• Permit letter issued by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the state

• Institutional ID Card

• Flashlights, spare batteries, etc

• Appropriate clothing (check the expected weather during your visit)

• Water bottle

• Sufficient money (keep some cash on you and don’t rely on UPI as many field sites will not have internet connectivity), ATM/credit card, etc.

• Binoculars, scopes, field guides (optional)

• Book accommodation. Know the destination, how to get there, local maps, etc.

• First-Aid kit

• Make sure you have insurance (ask adviser)

• Sleeping bags (even if you have an accommodation in the field as this may be safer to sleep in)

(Originally drafted by Dr Krishnapriya Tamma)



Field ethics (mandatory)

• First and foremost, please be courteous to your field staff. This is very important. Their needs are just as important as ours, and they should have the same access to all field equipment as we do. Share all equipment, food etc with them.

• Be courteous and collegial with team members and others who may be using the same field station and related spaces. Their work is as important as yours. Discuss and share responsibilities at the field station including maintenance and cleanliness. Do your best cooking here!

• If you stay in a village, please spend time explaining to village council what you do and thank them for letting you stay. Please be sensitive to local customs and mindful of what you say and do when you stay in a village. Keep your accommodation clean.

• If you like photography – please be sensitive when filming or photographing local people, customs and events. First, ask permission!

• Please carry a sufficient number of socks so that your friends don’t die.

• Do NOT collect any biological or physical material without permission.

• DO NOT leave anything in the field, particularly plastic waste. LEAVE ZERO footprint.

• DO NOT play music during field work. Avoid using headphones too as you need to be mindful of your surrounding when working in the field. DO NOT talk loudly and keep mobile phones on silent/vibrate mode when out on fieldwork.

(Originally drafted by Krishnapriya Tamma)