wildfire smoke on UC Davis campus with water tower in background.

Outdoor Threats and Safety

As the summer approaches, UC Davis employees and students must prioritize their safety and well-being while conducting field research, and working outdoors in the heat and wildfire smoke.

Proper planning will minimize risks to you and ensure the success of our work and research. This includes identifying potential hazards, developing safety protocols, providing necessary protective equipment, and staying informed of weather and wildfire conditions.

Topics Below

1. Heat Illness Prevention
2. Wildfire Smoke and Outdoor Workers
3. Field Safety Planning and Preparation

Heat Illness Prevention

Now is the time for departments with outdoor workers or researchers to prepare for the risks of heat exposure and to be aware of heat illness prevention. High-heat procedures must be enacted when the temperature rises over 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tuesday, May 16
9 - 10 a.m.
Register via Zoom

We'll discuss the four steps to preventing heat illness:

  • Planning - Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard.
  • Training - All staff and researchers engaged in outdoor work must complete the Heat Illness Prevention Training annually.
  • Water - Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage them to do so.
  • Shade - Provide access to a shaded area to prevent or recover from heat illness and where employees can take rest breaks.

Wildfire Smoke and Outdoor Workers

Wildfire is increasing in frequency and severity in California 

Wednesday, May 17
9 - 10 a.m.
Register via Zoom

We'll discuss planning and resources to protect outdoor workers from wildfire smoke:

  • CalOSHA emergency standard CCR 8 §5141.1 Protection from Wildfire Smoke ensures protections for outdoor workers and field researchers.
  • Decision Matrix Based on Air Quality prescribes actions when wildfire smoke produces unhealthy air quality.
  • Providing appropriate and effective respirators when the employer reasonably expects employees will be exposed to wildfire smoke. 
  • Latest developments in CalOSHA emergency standard
  • Options for ensuring protection from wildfire smoke for outdoor workers
Building Ventilation and Filtration

It is critical to keep doors and windows closed when it's smoky outdoors.

Learn more about what Facilities Management does to manage campus ventilation and filtration systems to reduce the impact of wildfire smoke.

Get N-95 Masks

Review your departmental supply of N-95 masks for outdoor workers and have enough ready to maintain operations through two weeks of smoke conditions. Test your communications plan before an emergency to notify your outdoor workers when a smoke event is coming and how to pick up a mask for voluntary use. 

Take 10-minute N-95 training if you anticipate performing high-exertion labor outdoors.

Field Safety Planning and Preparation

Start the safety plan early in your field work planning process. You will need to have time to gather information, complete training and obtain safety equipment - we can help!

Thursday, May 18
9 - 10 a.m.
Register via Zoom

We'll cover important elements of field safety planning:

  • Refresher on field safety resources
  • Key elements of the field safety plan and communications plan
  • New online field safety planning tool
  • Creating a safe and inclusive working environment for off-site research to prevent harassment, bullying, and other unwelcome conduct. New NSF proposals will require a written plan.

Top 5 Field Safety Concerns Following Severe Weather

The wet winter we had, on top of historic wildfire activity, creates the possibility for heightened threats in the field

  1. Water flowing fast and cold from mountain runoff
  2. Erosion and rock fall in areas that have burned
  3. Hazard trees that have been compromised by drought, fire and insects
  4. Ticks and mosquitoes will be abundant 
  5. Post-fire regeneration and weeds can include highly flammable vegetation

Field Safety Training

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  • Wilderness first aid
  • Tailored workshops

Equipment Loans

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  • Satellite communicators
  • First aid kits




  • Field safety plan consultation
    and review

Learn More About Field Research Planning