Play it safe this weekend

Posted: Friday, May 27, 2005

At the stroke of 12:01 Saturday morning, many lines will dip into the cold waters of the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek. That process will repeat itself a thousands times before the weekend is over.

It's truly the beginning of tourist season on the Kenai Peninsula.

Late nights, little darkness and even less sleep are a lethal combination for disaster when it comes to this long weekend. Common sense can become dulled, eyes tired and tempers flared. It's easy to get caught up in all that fishing, daylight and outdoor fun.

It doesn't matter if we're on the river, in a boat, hiking, biking or even driving, safety should be our utmost concern — not just this weekend, but all summer long.

Although accidents do happen, statistics show careless people lose their lives. Boating accidents in 2003 cost 400 lives alone, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Eighty-six percent of those people were not wearing personal flotation devices.

But there are things we can do to reduce the deadly numbers:

Always make sure everyone in the vehicle wears a seat belt.

Wear protective gear: A helmet, goggles, a life jacket. Doing so could save your life.

Whether hiking, fishing or boating, use the buddy system at all times.

Make a plan. Tell someone what your plans are and when you expect to be back.

Be prepared for the worst. What can you bring that might make a difference?

Dress for the weather — and expect it to change.

If you're trying something for the first time, make sure and get advice from experts. Better yet, take one with you.

When fishing, wear clothing and gear that will keep you from getting hooked — in a bad way.

Keep an eye out for our wild neighbors. With moose calves and wandering bears, the last thing you want to do is stumble upon an unsuspecting mama. Protective moms don't ask questions, they just charge. Give them plenty of space, and make noise so they hear you coming.

If you carry a gun for protection, know how to use it correctly — and legally.

These are a good start to getting you well into a summer you'll never forget in Alaska.

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