Editorial – Be cautious as weather warms up

July 2, 2014

By Staff

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History tells us the weather this time of the year is a trick. Soon enough, the June gloom will give way to sunny skies and warm temperatures.

But if this lovely weather holds (and even if it doesn’t) many Western Washingtonians will head outside, braving the cold waters and muddy hiking trails.

Please, don’t let the sun lull you into contentment. As we learned recently from incidents on Mount Rainier, even experienced outdoor people, and even those with professional guides, can get into trouble.

While most of us won’t be scaling mountains, it’s important to keep safety in mind no matter what your activity.

When out on the water, use a lifejacket, and make sure your children do as well. This is important on local lakes and becomes even more important for those venturing out to those nearby rivers swollen and frigid with snow melt. Cold water shock only takes a couple of minutes to set in.

Even safer options include frequenting bodies of water with lifeguards, at least in the early season when the water is still frigid.

Kayakers, canoers and other boaters should make sure to scout the conditions before heading into any body of water. Once again, swift moving rivers can be a problem, when the speed of the water gives you little time to react.

Heading out for a hike, be it for a day on a popular trail or a weekend in the backcountry, requires planning. Bring plenty of water. Make sure someone who isn’t with you knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Never go alone — a twisted ankle can become a serious situation if there’s no one else to help you. And make sure your phone is fully charged. Even if you’re out of range of a tower, it won’t hurt to have some kind of communication options.

Summer in this area is glorious. The outdoors is our reward for dealing with nine months of rain. Just make sure that when you go outside to enjoy that reward, you have a safe, fun adventure, and don’t end up in the headlines.


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