School's out. A long three-day weekend beckons. Moose and caribou have begun calving. Fishing for kings in Ninilchik River, Anchor River and Deep Creek opens this weekend. Road construction is under way. Traffic congestion grows a little more each day.
Does anyone need more proof that summer has begun on the Kenai Peninsula?
Although the peninsula has shed its winter blanket of snow, it doesn't mean people enjoying the outdoors can let down their guard. Summer dangers may be different, but they are just as deadly as their winter cousins.
Not to sound like an overprotective parent, but as peninsula residents and visitors flock to the outdoors to celebrate the beginning of summer we ask them to be careful. Far from putting a damper on recreational activities, safety can enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors. Not taking chances not only may save your life, but it may protect those around you. Just a few reminders:
On the road
Law enforcement officers are scheduled to be out in force this weekend. Among the things they'll be watching for are motorists and their passengers who are not wearing seat belts and children who are not properly restrained in appropriate safety seats; drivers who appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and drivers who are speeding, making unsafe lane changes and following too closely.
Alaska State Troopers also say two other areas of concern are people driving while fatigued and those impeding the flow of traffic.
With Alaska's long daylight hours, it's easy to try to pack too much into a single day. With a long three-day weekend ahead, the temptation to do too much in too little time grows. Who wants to sleep when the sun is shining and the fish are running? Drivers can reduce their chances of being in an accident if they get behind the wheel only when they are well rested and alert. Adequate rest also will help them cope a lot better with the traffic that they know they will encounter this weekend.
Alaska's "impeding law" says a vehicle that is traveling slower than the posted limit and is being followed by five or more vehicles must pull safely off the road and allow the traffic to pass. Anyone who has ever been stuck in one of Alaska's informal highway parades knows the value of the "impeding law." Adherence to it reduces not only unsafe situations but also driver frustration.
On the water
For many people, the long weekend will be their first trip out on the water since they put their boat in storage for the winter. No matter how warm the day may seem, Alaska's waters are unforgiving. Everyone who will be on or near the water is encouraged to wear a personal flotation device.
That PFD won't do anyone a bit of good if it's under the seat of the boat and someone ends up in the water without it.
Just as it's unwise to drink and drive, it's unwise to drink and operate a boat.
Anglers are reminded that getting skunked isn't the worst thing that could happen to them after a long day of fishing. Getting hooked or hooking someone are real dangers at the peninsula's popular fishing spots. Protective eye wear and hats are recommended, as are big doses of common sense and courtesy.
In your own backyard
Moose and caribou started giving birth this week. People should always keep a safe distance from their animal neighbors. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also has reminded residents it has a zero-tolerance policy on dogs that chase, attack or harass wildlife. To keep pets and wildlife safe, please keep dogs restrained -- particularly during this critical calving time.
However you celebrate the beginning of summer, we hope you do so safely. Our hope is it will be a quiet, boring weekend for law enforcement and emergency workers, because people heeded the advice to play it safe.
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