As the weather heats up, Sunshine Coast residents are heading outdoors to soak up the fun. Whether cycling, camping, boating, hiking, or even barbecuing, outdoor enthusiasts should plan on safety first.
Cyclists must always be on alert for those with whom they are sharing the trails and the road. With Bike to Work Week in full swing more cyclists will share the highways and streets; motorists and cyclists should be extra vigilant. Cyclists should never listen to iPods while out riding as it muffles the sounds that are the best warning system to prevent accidents. Alertness is important when cycling. So is wearing a helmet, which is required by law in BC. Reflective clothing is also a must as weather changes quickly here on the Coast and it is not always easy to see riders when the rain starts to pour down. Finally, before heading out, check the bike for any mechanical issues that could be the cause of a serious injury.
For those planning a weekend of camping, some simple safety tips can help make sure of a hassle free adventure. Fuel-burning camping stove or lanterns should be lit at least three meters away from combustible materials and tents. A battery operated flashlight – not a fuel-burning lantern – is the best option for lighting a tent’s interior.
Not many activities bring together physical activity with the beauty of nature like going for a hike. Before heading out, notify a friend of your planned route and try not to hike on poorly developed trails unless you are an expert backwoods person. Packing a mini-flashlight, a compass, a trail map, water, a whistle and a small first aid kit is always a good idea. Wearing proper footwear and looking at the weather forecast is also recommended although it can always change around here. Sometimes being prepared isn’t always just about protecting yourself, but those you may come across while out enjoying nature.
Once you are off the mountain trails and want to head down for some fun by the water, there are several key safety tips to follow to keep safe. Water reflects the sun, so it’s important to take steps to protect your skin by applying sunscreen and wearing the appropriate clothing. If you are entering the water, be sure to get in feet first and always try and swim with a friend. The buddy system is something you have probably learned in your beginner swim lessons and it still applies.
If you are going out on a boat to take your friends or family tubing, fishing, or even just for a light cruise, be sure to wear a personal flotation device (life jacket) and make sure that the boat is not running as you get on or off the vessel. If you do run into some trouble you will want to communicate with other boats in your area. The Coast Guard does not advocate cell phones as a substitute for the regular maritime radio distress and safety system. Cell phones do not necessarily put you in touch with other local boats like a maritime radio will. Ensure your vessel has proper emergency equipment, including fire extinguishers, fire alarms, a pump for getting rid of unwanted water. If you haven’t been out in your boat in a while, it’s also a great idea to check for any damage caused by rodents in case they have eaten through a line or some other important feature.
It’s definitely the time of year to fire up the barbecue and have some friends over to relax and enjoy a lovely afternoon or evening together. Before starting the barbecue for the first time, inspect the burners and tubes for any blockages due to grease or rust buildup. Clean or replace any blocked parts or have a certified technician make the necessary repairs.
When purchasing or installing a gas barbecue, make sure that it carries Canadian Standards Association ‘Blue Flame’ indicating that the barbecue has been tested to applicable national standards. Never use a barbecue indoors as there is a high risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, always keep the lid open before lighting to allow any buildup of gas to escape and if you smell gas or find a leak, be sure to turn off the barbecue and don’t light it again until it has been fixed by a professional.
Being safe this summer will prevent unneeded accidents and allow you and your friends to enjoy all our beautiful Coast has to offer.
Kudos to Jim Dorey for his clear and comprehensive guide to summer safety. It was even up to the excellent standard set by our local Medical Health Officer, Dr. Paul Martiquet. The only other piece of advice I would add, after more than 30 years working in preventive medicine, is, “Do your boozin’ AFTER your cruisin’, sportin’, swimmin’, bikin’ etc.”
That little (or often, not so little), loss of judgement, coordination, balance, and reaction time can turn a great afternoon into a tragedy in a few seconds. We see it every day. So have fun; enjoy our all too short summer; kick back with a couple of cool ones if that’s what you like…. after you’ve finished the stuff that needs you to be on top of your game.
Dr. John Carsley
Thanks from the friendly neighbourhood newspaper!