Letnick: Take precautions when enjoying the great outdoors

Be responsible out there—don't consume alcohol before operating any sort of vehicle including boats.

LetnickSummer has arrived in the sunny Okanagan and as the temperature rises, residents and visitors are heading outdoors to explore our beautiful lakes and provincial parks.

The reality is, most of us are thinking more about the fun we’ll have and less about the precautions we need to take to enjoy our favourite activities safely.

Water sports in particular are a big draw, but sadly this is where we see a number of tragedies occur each year.

The Canadian Red Cross notes hundreds of people die each year as a result of boating-related activities, and nearly 65 per cent of these deaths involve the use of alcohol.

So be responsible out there—wait until you are off the water before consuming alcohol, and have a designated driver set up afterwards.

Provide non-alcoholic beverages to boat operators and passengers, and don’t allow a person who has consumed alcohol to operate a boat.

Finally, be sure all passengers are wearing lifejackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs).

Meanwhile, supervision of young children is crucial when out for a swim.

The Red Cross says drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for Canadian children ages one to four.

A small child can disappear in seconds and can drown in only a few centimetres of water.

It’s worth noting that for people of all ages, knowing how to swim is important—but it doesn’t always help you in an emergency situation.

Learning water safety is key to being prepared. Always watch for hazards when swimming in open waters, look before you choose to dive in shallower water, and make sure there is always someone nearby who can see you.

Sun safety is another often overlooked concern.

I’ve seen many a sunburn in our neck of the woods, but there are precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family.

The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends limiting sun exposure between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and especially around midday.

The sun’s radiation is strongest between noon and 2 p.m.

Of course, that’s easier said than done when there are so many great outdoor activities and community events to enjoy locally.

So if you will be out in the sun, wear clothing that shades the skin and use wide-brimmed or legionnaire-style hats.

If you wear a baseball cap, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your face, neck and ears.

Try to get some shade when you can, especially if you’re with children—because the most harmful effects of sun exposure occur during early childhood.

Babies in particular have thinner, more sensitive skin and can burn more easily.

That said, many people aged 60 or older face a high risk for developing skin cancer.

People of all ages should use an SPF 30 or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen, and reapply it at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating. And don’t forget to use a minimum SPF 30 lip balm.

Enjoy a safe, wonderful summer in beautiful Kelowna and area.