The U.S. Forest Service has 193 million acres of beautiful national forests and grasslands for all of us to visit and summer is a great time to do get outside and enjoy them. The water is more comfortable for a swim, the weather is warmer, and in most places, the kids are out of school.
However, the most enjoyable months of the year for many can also be the most dangerous simply because more time in the great outdoors means more risk for injury or illness. Everything from sunburn to animal attacks can sour a chance for a wonderful experience.
One of the most obvious summer dangers to your health and safety is the sun—especially during summer. It warms the summer days we enjoy, sure. It also increases the risk of heatstroke and everything from sun burn to skin cancer, unless we protect ourselves.
Taking a dip in the 57,000 miles of streams and 11,000 miles of rivers managed by the US Forest Service is a great way to get a break from that summer heat. Just keep water safety precautions in mind when you do.
Humans aren’t the only ones that enjoy the warmer weather.
Wildlife—our year-round residents on National Forests—are more active in the summer. Steer clear of biting bugs, venomous reptiles and territorial mammals if you can. Most animals do their best to avoid contact with humans. There are exceptions to the rule, though. Small children can be interpreted as prey for a mountain lion, and improperly secured food can be a tempting snack for a hungry bear.
Also, keep in mind that danger from food isn’t limited to attracting bears and other varmints. Summer heat can push stored food into the danger zone where bacteria multiply very fast. So try to keep your perishable food in an ice chest and cook food thoroughly to avoid foodborne diseases that can cause illness.
Taking some simple steps to know before you go, can save you a lot of time, hassle and discomfort—all of which can spoil your summer fun. Keep summer safety in mind when you’re enjoying the great outdoors, and more importantly, have fun!