Be safe this summer
By Jenn Watt
Published June 26, 2018
Summer is finally here – the first long weekend is upon us, kids are out of school and the county’s towns are getting busy. It’s time to let your hair down, pull up a deck chair and do some relaxing by the lake.
Shifting from work mode to vacation mode means dropping routines and trying new things. Sometimes it means being less cautious than you normally would be. And that can lead to emergency situations.
Tragic events such as fires, car accidents and drownings can happen in cottage country on bright, sunny days when all anyone wants is to forget about the troubles of the world.
The increased population in the summer puts extra pressure on emergency services, which are busy responding to additional calls across a county that’s 4,000 square kilometres. As attentive and well-trained as they are, it still takes time for first responders to make their way down narrow private roads to an emergency at the cottage, for example.
Every summer, our newspaper reports on heart-breaking tragedies in the community. Sometimes nothing could have been done to avoid them. But other times, with a few precautions taken, lives could be saved. Common culprits: speed, lack of safety equipment, lack of attention.
On the road: While it may seem roads in the Highlands are slower and safer than down south, during the summer there’s still plenty of traffic. The added hazard is the hills and corners that hide oncoming traffic and can make navigation difficult at higher speeds. Add to that unexpected wildlife crossing and you have a potentially dangerous situation. Slow down. Take your time. And wear a seatbelt!
On the water: The law says you need to have a life-jacket for every person in the vessel, but it’s better to actually put those life-jackets on.
Could you swim to shore if you found yourself suddenly stranded in the middle of the lake? What if you had been injured?
Even if your life-jacket is in the boat, that doesn’t always mean you’re going to be able to find it if you fall in.
Transport Canada notes that despite a boater’s experience, “a sudden fall into cold water can seriously affect breathing, nerves and muscle strength. A life-jacket gives you thermal protection as well as keeping you buoyant.”
It’s also a good idea to invest in swimming lessons for everyone in the family if you’re going to be around water.
Around fire: Forest fires can start from the remnants of a campfire that wasn’t properly extinguished. Fires at the cottage have started from hot ashes not properly disposed of. It’s not always apparent how fires start, but some fires can easily be prevented by paying closer attention.
The municipalities are fantastic resources. They can provide swimming lesson information, help you understand burning regulations and how to better prevent a fire.
Summer in the Highlands is a special time. Taking a few precautions can help keep it that way.