By Angela R. Wilson/American Red Cross of Alaska
Summer safety is paramount. Learning safety methods for outdoor fun from organizations like the American Red Cross should be a priority on your ‘to-do’ list.
Every year, more than 6.25 million people receive Red Cross training and information in first aid, water safety, and other skills that help save lives. With safety training comes awareness, self-confidence, and bragging rights for being ‘disaster ready’ and armed with the knowledge to help save lives when necessary. The Red Cross offers an array of safety courses to best fit your needs during any season of the year.
In addition to courses and tips on first aid and water safety, the Red Cross also offers safety tips to keep in mind while participating in fun activities this summer, such as camping, hiking and road trips. Before having outdoor fun, be aware of:
- COVID-19: Summer fun will be a bit different this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If your community is reopening, know what precautions to take in public settings. Keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others and wear face coverings, especially in crowded areas. Do not place face coverings on children under age 2. Stay at home if you are sick.
- Camping: Know the level of ability of those in your group and plan accordingly. Make sure you have enough food, water, extra clothing, bug spray, bear spray or bear bells, blankets, gasoline in your vehicle, emergency items for first aid and car trouble, along with other items your family may need to enjoy a safe camping trip.
- Hiking: Make sure to have food, plenty of water, proper footwear for the conditions you expect to face, layers of clothing and protection against bears, bugs, sun and local poisonous vegetation. To learn more about what supplies you should have when hiking in Alaska, please visit https://www.alaska.org/advice/what-to-wear-hiking.
- Grilling: Summer is also a popular time for grilling family meals at home or at your campsite. Yet grilling fires spark more than 10,000 home fires on average each year. To avoid this, always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area, and keep the grill away from the house or anything that could catch fire. Make sure everyone, including children and pets, stays away from the grill.
When living in Alaska there are other events that may occur during the summer. We as Alaskans must remember that at any time, we may find ourselves in the middle of a flood, rock or mudslide, or some other disaster while enjoying summer sun and activities out in the wilderness or on the road system. Here are a few additional tips that may help keep you safe if one of these disasters should occur:
- Flooding: If you encounter flooding while driving this summer, be safe and turn around. Head for higher ground and stay there. If you know the area near your home or where you’re planning to camp is prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly if necessary. Follow evacuations orders and do not attempt to return to the area until officials say it is safe to do so. Do not forget to use your protective clothing that you packed for emergencies if you get wet. Staying dry and warm is important.
- Rock slide or mudslide: If you are planning on taking a road trip this summer, be well rested and alert and use your seat belt. You may also encounter mud or rock slides while on roadways. When driving during inclement weather, be especially alert for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks and other indications of possible debris flow. Even though we have summer sunlight during the late evening hours in Alaska, we still need to keep our headlights on and clean.
- Heat and sun exposure: It’s also important to remember to protect yourself and your family from extreme heat and sun exposure during summer months. According to Seattle Children’s, the temperature inside a car can increase 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and 40 degrees in an hour. This can happen even if it feels cooler outside the vehicle.
The first official day of summer is just ahead – the perfect time of the year to enjoy what Alaska has to offer, and to keep the safety of you and your loved ones top of mind as you are out in the wilderness or on the roads. Stay safe and have fun out there, Alaskans!