Thursday 21 April 2016

Non-Deadly Dangers of the Dune

Where I go Sandboarding, the main problems which can be potentially dangerous are: litter (which include discarded pieces of glass and metal in the sand), crashing into a natural sand wall at high speed, thorns and plants with sharp pointy bits, and snakes (even though snakes are rare to find, they're still quite threatening and you may just come across one).

I might have made a few stomachs turn last time when I was talking about deadly dangers of Sandboarding, but this time I'll be on the soft side and talk about some of the non-deadly dangers of Sandboarding. I've mentioned a few above and I'll expand on those.


In most states, littering (no matter how big, small, hazardous, or safe) can constitute as a crime and people have been known to be arrested for this; However it's not like littering can be seen on the same wavelength as a murder or a theft and on the Sandboarding vs. The Law post, it can be viewed as a "victimless crime"; except, the victim could also be seen as all of us, how? The environment; our earth is held in trust with us so we can preserve it for future generations; if litter had never been collected, literally everywhere would be a landfill and we would see less of a clean world and a bit of a more unorganised, untidy, and dangerous one. Think about it, if you were Sandboarding down a dune on a beach at 20 miles per hour and an empty drinks bottle was in your dune path, you would swerve a little bit but you might also come from 20 miles an hour to zero, you'd be wiped out from the dune. It's essential we keep littering to a minimum, especially hazardous waste such as Glass, drugs, metal, and other things such as paper, plastic, or even clothing. Also, litter... smells and who wants to sandboard down a smelly dune? Nobody.

Courtesy of: Rakesh.5suthar License: CC BY-SA 3.0



No, I'm not talking about the thing you do in a Seat Ibiza, I'm on about going too fast on a sand dune; this might sound satirical but if you were to go down a sand dune at great speed and at one of the sides, there was a house, sand barrier, or another barrier (maybe one made from plastic, metal, or wood.) If you were going down very fast and there was an airbag at the bottom then the consequences would be very small, or non-existent. This is why if you go to the World Sandboarding Championships at Monte Kaolino, you'll see water at the end of the dune, it's to stop the rider.

It's a scientific fact too, if you cruised at speed on water, you wouldn't sink. It's related to your mass on the surface of the water; I can't explain it too well but I found this article that does explain the 'Science of Swimming'! You can read it by clicking here!

Here's some footage from the 2007 World Championships and you'll see it at multiple parts in the video:


Flora and Fauna (mostly Flora)


If you were to go to Cornwall where I do most of my sandboarding, you'll find there is a fair amount of plants here, mainly long grass and a few thorns; plants can be dangerous but it depends where in the world you are, which plants you're dealing with, and how you come into contact with it.

In Europe and North America, you may come into contact with thorns, nettles, ivy, and other native plants which may be poisonous and hazardous if you come into contact with one; However these can be treated with standard first aid and/or by a couple of days' of rest. Except for the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum Mantegazzianum) which is a plant that can be found in Europe, the United States of America and Canada; it is native to the Caucasus region of Asia and if you mess with this plant, it won't be good. The sap of a Giant Hogweed contains a toxic chemical which when it is in contact with human skin, Sunlight can cause severe burns and make blisters appear; the burns can last for months and once the burns have died down, the skin is still sensitive to light and can take many years to heal.

Courtesy of: Appaloosa License: CC BY-SA 3.0

In New Zealand, it's a different story; there are a lot of plants which can even be fatal to humans, when I read some of the articles in my research, I found a plant that could cause paralysis, a plant which can cause death, a plant that could cause severe blindness, and a plant that could cause severe poisoning. The chances are, if you can think of any symptom, a plant in New Zealand could probably do just that. The list of dangers for New Zealand plants are so vast (and since I have a blog following from New Zealand), I will make an article solely for the Dangers of New Zealand plants very soon.

Interesting little additional note, in Geography Now! (one of my favourite YouTube users), Paul very briefly summarises a 'Desert Watermelon' if you were to find one in the Saudi Arabian desert; I won't spoil the surprise but it relates to this post, watch the video below (You'll find the fact just before the 7 minute mark):

 Flora and Fauna (mostly Fauna)

If you're Sandboarding in Cornwall and some parts of the British Isles (except Ireland), you may be lucky enough to find an Adder. The Adder is the only venomous snake native to Britain, this kind of snakes isn't an aggressive one but will only defend itself if you were to step on it or just be a nuisance, and there have been no recorded deaths from an Adder bite in the UK for over 20 years. The sheer majority of people who have been bitten by an adder were handling the snake so the main lesson is that; if you don't disturb the snake, the snake will leave you alone. You can also find wasps within the UK which unlike a bee, will sting you for the fun of it.

In Europe (especially in France and Italy), you might be able to find an 'Asp Viper' which unlike the adder, is easily agitated. Never try to get near an Asp Viper as the bite can still be fatal so get to a hospital as soon as possible; there are approximately up to 5 deaths per year from an Asp Viper (pictured below).

Courtesy of: Harold Van Der Ploeg License: CC BY-SA 4.0
In parts of America and Australia, you can find a wide range of snakes (many of which can be deadly) and a lot of Spiders too, I won't include any pictures as some of you might find it hard to sleep if I include pictures.

In the Sahara (if you intend to Sandboard in the desert), you can find a lot of lizards and snakes as some species are common in the region; however a lot of these will only attack when they feel threatened, this sounds like a big danger but it's really just nothing to be scared of; the Sahara is the largest sand desert in the world and these lizards are roughly about half a metre, so what are your chances?

Another animal to be very careful about is the Mosquito; these little things can directly cause Malaria & Yellow fever from a single bite, Malaria has killed roughly over 430,000 people globally in 2015. If you can remember from an article I wrote in 2015, I mentioned about Malaria and Yellow fever: Read the article (Immunisations Abroad Part 2) and if you're thinking of travelling to a country (at risk, which is shown in a map below), you might want to be vaccinated before you travel there.

Courtesy of: Petaholmes License: Public Domain
 So, those are your dangers which are not deadly, I might have occasionally slipped into a subject where a certain thing might be deadly if it hasn't been seen to; but most of the time, you should be okay but the main piece of advice is to stay careful.

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