The following is a classic article from eHam on Field Day operations and planning. FD 2017 is approaching fast, time to start thinking about it EAWA members!
How to Come Back After Field Day by KA7EKW)
Well, it's that time again. Those little flakes of "global warming" have stopped falling, the snow shovel is hanging in the garage, and a ham's thoughts turn to Field Day.
However, you will be facing risks this year that you never have faced before. It doesn't matter how many contacts you make, if you are the highest-ranking Silent Key in the list!
The risks break down into three areas: Technology, Environment, and Medical.
Let's deal with Technology first.
Oh, sure, you've done this every year, so long that you still have a couple of Motorola plugs in your tool kit, but unless you are running a solo effort, there is a good chance that someone you've never met is bringing out equipment that you've never seen. Look from a distance, until you know the ways that it might bite you.
If you're in a club, it's a good idea to appoint a safety officer -- an experienced ham who likes to build things -- to check all installations during and after setup. His or her ONLY job is to look for things that don't look right. No power is applied until cleared with Safety.
Are the power leads properly insulated, the antenna properly grounded, the generator safely away from hazards -- and not aimed to fill your tent with carbon monoxide while you sleep?
Antennas deserve special attention -- they tend to be sharp at one end, hard to see at night, and can zap you anywhere along the length. Are you running an NVIS (aka "Radiating Neck-Wire") . . ? It's a good idea to drape something like barrier tape at invervals, so that it's obvious there's something there. A tower? Imagine the worst-case scenario, and it falls over -- where will it go? Onto a power line, or someone's sleeping bag?
Everything needs to be labeled, unless nobody other than the builder will operate it. ALL power leads must be marked, in case you need to cut off the juice in a hurry.
Field Day is supposed to be a disaster DRILL, let's not make it REAL.
Second, we have Environmental.
Some of this might be related to Technology, like the guys I watched raising a tower during a lull between thunderstorm cells passing overhead, or the guy who drove his ground rod through the school sprinkler system.
However, the environment is other things. Do you have a security issue, where equipment is likely to disappear if left unattended? Or maybe most of your planned area has recently been sprayed with bug killer. Or a new power line has been run . . .there are a lot of factors.
Don't be afraid to find somewhere else to operate -- that's a big part of working a field expedient site, learning where not to put them. Even just picking the opposite corner of the park may make all the difference between a safe weekend and a real problem.
Lastly, we have Medical.
Sorry, OM, but you ARE an OM! That tower trailer that you eagerly cranked a couple of years ago (well, let's be honest, TWENTY years ago) is ready to be your first heart attack. If you're the only one around to crank it, take it easy, take your time on the crank.
Unless you are Jack LaLanne (I think that guy is allergic to Kryptonite!), as you get older, you are no long able to jump into the same level of effort that you used to. If nothing else, this is your incentive for recruiting some teenagers into ham radio!
You also need to think things through. Make sure that you know what you are doing, and that you're at that step in the process (especially important if working as a team). If in doubt, start over rather than miss an important step.
Setup isn't the only worry. Make sure you get enough water (plain old water, or club soda). By the time you notice that you're thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so maybe a big club should assign someone to keeping the flow of water going to every operator. And, if you're there in the tent, if anyone takes a drink, EVERYONE take a drink. Don't skip meals, and don't load up on snacks and junk.
If you are out in the sun, WEAR YOUR HAT. Use sunscreen. Wear loose-fitting long sleeves.
Don't forget your flashlight and batteries. Wandering around at night is a really good way to learn WHY we call NVIS antenna "Radiating Neck Wires," or be reminded exactly where the counterpoise was staked.
Now, since it seems that most clubs go hide out on mountaintops for FD, you also need to make sure that you bring extra water, food, fuel and meds -- be prepared to be stuck out there for 5 days.
Lastly, be prepared to evacuate the site. Make a checklist of the most important stuff to load first -- you may have less than 5 minutes' warning if a fire starts. Nothing that you own is worth dying for, and if you're given an evacuation order, GO. The best plan is to leave everything in your car unless you are using it.
Practicing this part can be fun. I've seen a couple of clubs that made it a contest to be ready to roll after FD is over.
Whatever you do, wherever you go, just do your best to be back home Sunday night, and back for next year's Field Day.