Download this pamphlet put out by the Arizona State Mine Inspector’s Office- Safety Tips For Rockhounds – Abandoned Mines-
Many rockhounding sites require driving and/or hiking to remote areas, largely on dirt, sand or rocky roads where there is a good possibility of getting stuck. It is always a good idea to travel in a group and to bring plenty of drinking water with you when traveling, especially in hot, dry climates. If you must travel alone, be sure to let someone know of your plans.
It is advised to use safety goggles whenever rocks are struck, whether breaking open small stones or chipping a piece off a large boulder. Flakes of stone can seriously injure the eyes. Also, be aware that the dust that comes from chipping and cutting rock can be extremely hazardous to the lungs. If necessary, use a mask or respirator.
- Rockhounds need various tools to collect rocks and minerals. Rock hammers have a blunt end on one side and a chiseled end on the other. The blunt end is use to break off a piece of rock while the chiseled end can be used for prying. Rockhounds carry mallets and small chisels as well for finer, more delicate collection work. A pocket knife is a good instrument to test mineral hardness. Rockhounds also use hand lenses to magnify the minerals for identification purposes. A cloth, sample containers and a bucket or backpack are all helpful in rock collection.
- Rock collecting requires the use of safety gear. Eye protection is necessary to protect your eyes from flying debris as you break pieces of rock off outcrops. Heavy gloves protect your hands from sharp pieces of rock that break off samples as they are collected. If the rock collecting is done on an outcrop that is taller than you or has an overhang, the use of a hard hat becomes necessary to protect yourself from falling debris. A first aid kit is helpful for any cuts, bruises, or injuries that may be sustained during the exhibition.
- Rockhound exhibitions often occur in remote locations in nature. Prepare for the trip by putting on bug spray and sunscreen. Make sure that you are aware of your surroundings as you work. Know what poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac look like so that you can avoid them. Be careful when working around brush as many snakes like to take shelter there. Make sure that you bring plenty of water and snacks to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid collecting from a steep slope with loose material. Disturbing the slope may cause a landslide which could lead to injury. Avoid collecting from an outcrop that has a overhang. Striking the rock could lead to less stability in the outcrop and may cause falling debris. Be aware of sharp fragments you create as you collect the rocks. Remove these sharp fragments to keep fellow collectors and animals safe.
- Place each sample in a collection container as you collect them. The collection containers may be a plastic baggie, a piece of newspaper, or a plastic collection jar. Label each sample as you collect them. Note that you do not have to identify the rock on the collection container, but you should be specific into where each sample was found. This ensures that samples do not get mixed up when you return home.