I will be the first to admit that following a long and cold winter and a short spring counted in days or weeks and not months, we almost feel like we’re trying to play catch-up before we miss out on the summertime outdoors fun.
From fishing, boating and swimming, to camping, hiking and birding, there are a variety of outdoors options. And the fact is, each has its own unique enjoyment and safety considerations to take into account as well.
Just the mention of “safety” might prompt some readers to shrug their shoulders with apathy, thinking “not another sermon about wearing your life jacket and exercising care while operating a jet ski.”
While those are obvious reminders, this safety promotion is for anyone spending time outdoors.
Sunburns, bug bites and a host of other hindrances can turn a planned afternoon of fighting pike into several days of suffering if you don’t consider the right precautions.
Whether it’s fishing, boating or just lounging at the beach, taking care of your skin is important. While not an immediate threat such as drowning, long-term skin-care neglect can cause implications such as skin cancer, which is every bit as serious as being involved in a boat accident without a life jacket.
It should be common practice to protect your skin before spending any amount of time outdoors. Begin as you exit your morning shower by applying a generous layer of moisturizing lotion, which feels good and aids in skin well-being. Also apply sunscreen before you venture out. This allows the sunscreen to begin working immediately at filtering out harmful ultraviolet rays.
Most people are familiar with the sunscreen SPF number. This indicates a level of protection — the higher the number the more your skin is shielded against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Special formulas, such as a water resistance, may add protection. Regardless of the activity, experts advise reapplication every few hours to maintain protection.
Grassy and wooded areas also harbor ticks just waiting to randomly latch on to hikers and campers. Some repellent formulas promote protection against ticks and other nuisance bugs, but just be sure, check yourself for ticks frequently anyway.
Whether riding a personal watercraft or just lounging around outdoors, sunglasses are not just for looks. The sun-dimming effect reduces eye strain and helps keep your vision clear, and they also filter out harmful ultraviolet rays.
One last bit of advice: If your hair doesn’t effectively protect your scalp, a hat could save you from burning your head. Brimmed hats also keep direct sunlight from your eyes.
Enjoying summer, especially for a youngster, depends on comfort. Kids lose interest when they become bored, or irritated by mosquitoes or burned by the sun.
These all seem like simple reminders, but ask somebody who forgot a hat, misplaced their sunglasses or didn’t put on sunscreen about the after-effects of their recent fishing trip or day-long kayak or canoe paddling adventure.
Then ask if they plan to be so forgetful the next time out.
Leier is a biologist for the Game and Fish Department in West Fargo. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org