In an article below, my friend Dale Knutsen discusses safety and communication while in the forest.  His suggestion regarding the use of Citizens Band (CB) Radios has me thinking about all the times when our regular means of communication was unavailable.  The Almanor Basin area has suffered through a number of instances when we were without power, no cell coverage available and landlines down too.

Now, what if you or a loved one is suffering a major health emergency?  How do you call for help?  I am thinking having a CB would be a good solution.  CB requires no infrastructure; only needing a charged battery.  If we could get our emergency responders to pick a channel(s) to be used in emergency situations in the Basin, we would have at least a chance of contacting someone who could relay a call for help.  CBs are relatively inexpensive and as I said, require no infrastructure.

Our Fire Chiefs meet on a regular basis.  I suggest you contact yours and ask that they establish this additional means of getting help.  I have mentioned this to them a number of times; however, they did not seem to be receptive to the idea.  Perhaps if they received enough encouragement from citizens in their area, they might work on providing us with yet another possibility to save a life in an emergency!

I hope you enjoy the following article regarding safety and communications in our beautiful forests.  My thanks to Dale for providing this valuable information!

Enjoying Your Forest Outings

By Dale Knutsen

The passage of winter brings out the urge to go visit the forest once again.  Fishing and hiking beckon, and there are delightful sights, sounds and even smells to enjoy in the woods.  But there are a few cautions to keep in mind if we want to keep our outings pleasant.

First is the matter of planning.  Know where you are going, and let a responsible person know your destination, your planned route and when you expect to return.  That way, if you don’t reappear by the appointed time, someone will be able to get help on its way without delay.

Be sure you are dressed and equipped for the outing.  An unexpected rain shower can dampen more than spirits, and running out of water on a warm hike starts to raise safety concerns.  There are numerous sources of advice for what to carry for various kinds of outings; it’s smart practice to consult those lists from time to time.

Most of us rather enjoy the quiet time of a forest outing and we’d just as soon be “disconnected” from electronic devices while we’re enjoying nature.  But we’d also like the ability to communicate with someone if we should experience a vehicle problem, a turned ankle or some other unplanned issue.  And this can be a challenge in our neck of the woods.


Cell phones are great … when they have service.  It’s no surprise that cell service is very spotty in our region, so you may not be able to connect with anyone when you really need to.  Walkie-talkies are a good way to stay in touch with nearby forest companions, like fellow hikers, as long as they aren’t very far away.  People who spend a lot of time in the forest sometimes a carry personal locator beacon, like SPOT, that can send a one-way distress message via a satellite link.

Another communication alternative is the good ol’ Citizens’ Band (CB) radio.  It turns out that the timber people who work the forest use CB radio for safety, to communicate their location on those narrow dirt roads.  That way they know when to pull over at a wide spot to let an oncoming big rig come by safely.  Here’s how it works:

  • At the highway on an active logging route you will find a paper plate or some other sign attached to a tree with a CB channel number listed; this is the channel being used on that particular route.
  • Along the route there will be other paper plates attached to trees with distance numbers printed on them (e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc.); these indicate the approximate distance in miles from the highway entrance.
  • Inbound trucks will report their location on the designated CB channel with words like “inbound, marker 3” or “coming in, mile 7”.
  • Outbound (heavily loaded) traffic will do the same with words like “loaded, mile 9”, “heavy, marker 5” or “coming out, at 11”.

Just by listening to the CB and keeping track of the paper plate markers you can tell when it’s time to get out of the way.  If you actually transmit your location as well, it will help the truckers know what traffic is coming up (e.g., “red pickup coming in, marker 5”).  And, if you should encounter a problem, contacting a trucker by CB may cause them to make your situation known when they reach civilization.  It’s worth a try!

Of course, it helps to know your location when you call for help.  That’s where maps and GPS come in.  But that’s a story for another time.