Fun not possible without safety

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 26, 2008

The issue: Summer is almost here.

Our position: Fun doesn&8217;t have to turn into tragedy.

Summer doesn&8217;t officially start until late June, but for all intents and purposes, the season is already here.

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Kids are out of school. The grills are getting cleaned off and fired up. Everyone is making travel plans.

But as we all know, it&8217;s a very thin line between a good time and a terrible tragedy.

There&8217;s no reason to live the next three months inside a bubble, but a little extra precaution never hurt.

The domino effect of dependence on gas, global warming and threats to our health make it more difficult to keep our families and ourselves safe.

Here are a few tips from the American Red Cross to use this summer.

Heat safety:

First and foremost, dress for the heat. Lightweight, light-colored clothing will deflect some of the sun&8217;s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.

Drink plenty of water, and avoid foods that are high in protein as they increase metabolic heat.

Take regular breaks, and try as much as possible to save strenuous outdoor activities for the coolest part of the day, between 4 and 7 p.m.

Make sure to use sunscreen that is designed to best protect your particular skin type.

Water and boating safety:

Swim only in supervised areas and obey all rules and posted signs. This should apply to adults as well as children.

Drinking and swimming is just as dangerous as drinking and driving. Avoid alcohol use while swimming or boating.

When boating, make sure to get an accurate weather forecast, and bring along a portable radio to check up-to-date weather reports.

Bring the necessary safety equipment, and always let someone know where you are going.

Hiking and camping safety:

Make sure you have the skills necessary for your trip, i.e., reading a compass, first aid and erecting a temporary shelter.

As with boating, bring safety equipment, check weather conditions and plan accordingly.

Make sure you are physically fit for the trip. Consulting your doctor is the best idea.

Hike or boat with a companion. It makes the trip go faster, and it is a good safety measure in case of an emergency.

Of course, a little common sense is always the best medicine. If you feel tired, take a break. Know that heat exhaustion comes in stages, and learn to recognize the symptoms of a possible heat-related illness.

There&8217;s no reason not to have fun this summer. There&8217;s even less reason to cause yourself or someone else harm while doing it.