No photography work undertaken in desert areas is risk-free, and risk is not limited to the great deserts that feature prominently on the world map. Desert terrain can be found on every continent, and the precautions and rules for survival are broadly the same everywhere. Nevertheless, the advice that follows cannot be comprehensive and must therefore be regarded as incomplete. Those embarking on potentially hazardous activities in desert areas should seek and observe appropriate professional and local safety advice.
The key guidelines are to:
- seek and heed appropriate professional and local safety advice;
- travel with other people and with at least two vehicles;
- never drive off-road in a two-wheel drive vehicle;
- tell someone about your route, destination and estimated time of arrival and return;
- carry enough food and fuel, and at least five litres of water per person per day;
- beware of sunburn;
- carry a suitable medical survival kit;
- carry appropriate maps, compass or GPS equipment, and where practicable a telephone or radio;
- beware of fatigue and drowsiness when driving in hot conditions;
- carry appropriate spares for and at least two spare tyres for each vehicle;
- don't attempt to cross flash flooded streams or even test the depth of the water; and
- remain with the vehicle in the event of accident or breakdown - it is a lot easier to find than a wandering individual, and may provide some shade and protection.