Outdoor tips to keep your family safe this summer
With July 4 upon us, many families have plans or are making plans for a weekend getaway or vacation. Whether you’re a veteran or a beginner, here are some safety tips for camping, boating, riding an ATV, or using fireworks.
Camping Safety Tips
1. Familiarize yourself with your campsite. Many times when we go camping, the car doors fly open and the kids are off as soon as we get to the campsite. While I know everybody is excited, it’s best to take a step back and look at the site first.
Some things to look for are:
Smoldering fires from the previous camper
The slope of the site
Insects or poison ivy
Any leftover food that may attract animals.
2. Take plenty of water. Depending on where you’re camping, you may have access to streams or natural springs. While it may look clean to drink, it probably isn’t. If you’re really roughing it and the amount of water you can take is limited, iodine tablets can be used to purify water.
3. Pack antihistamines. For seasonal allergy sufferers, antihistamines are necessary. In addition, antihistamines are also very useful for those unexpected allergic reactions to bee stings, poison ivy, etc.
When I was growing up, my dad got stung by a bee and had a severe allergic reaction. It had never happened before so we had no idea he was allergic to them. In this instance, we had to call 911.
4. Notify family or friends. Before heading out on your camping adventure, tell family or friends where you’re going and when you expect to return.
Boating Safety Tips
1. Don’t drink and drive. This common-sense tip also applies to boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol was the leading cause of fatal boating accidents in 2013 where the primary cause was known. The effects of alcohol are amplified because of sun exposure, wind, and noise.
The boat traffic can be very heavy depending on the size of the lake. Staying alert is key to keeping your passengers, as well as other boaters and swimmers, safe.
2. Wear your lifejacket. Each person on board should have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. If you decide you’re not going to wear it, make sure it’s easily accessible. You never know when a serious situation is going to arise.
3. Keep a watchful eye on the weather. Weather patterns can quickly change during hot summer months. Watch for changes in the wind direction and listen for thunder off in the distance. Take along a weather radio or SMART phone to help monitor the weather.
ATV Safety Tips
1. Take a rider safety course. If you’ve never ridden an ATV, and this is a new hobby, it’s wise to take a rider safety course. Many people jump on an ATV and away they go. So many unexpected things can happen, especially to an inexperienced rider. These vehicles are fast, and handling one in an emergency is much different than a car.
Always wear a helmet. An unexpected rut or bump can send you flying, maybe straight into a tree.
2. Wear appropriate clothing. Shorts and flip-flops are not appropriate clothing. When riding an ATV, you should wear:
Long sleeve shirts
3. Pick the right ATV. If you’re buying or renting an ATV, make sure it’s the right size. You should never ride or allow your child to ride an ATV that’s too big in size and horsepower. Again, they handle and react very differently from other modes of transportation.
Fireworks Safety Tips
1. Only competent adults should handle fireworks. If you’re nervous about using fireworks or you’ve had too much to drink, please leave them alone. Children should never be allowed to light them. Injuries often occur when the person handling the fireworks is inexperienced and/or judgment impaired. Most injuries are to hands and faces.
2. After fireworks burn out, toss them in a bucket of water or spray them with a hose. Pay special attention to sparklers. While they seem like one of the safest fireworks, they burn at a temperature close to 2,000 degrees. If your child drops a sparkler, tell him/her to leave it on the ground because it’s hard to tell which end is safe to pick up. Spray the sparkler immediately to put it out.
3. If you’re lighting fireworks that launch into the sky, plan for their landing in a safe area. Over the years, I’ve had the neighbor’s fireworks land on my roof, which I wasn’t very happy about. Please be mindful of the wind direction.