Summer recreation starts with proper safety

It’s the time of year to which many regional residents look forward to through the many, long months of cold winters and tempestuous springs.

Summer has arrived, and with it the fun and exciting sporting opportunities enjoyed by plenty of people in North Dakota, in our wide open spaces and on our many bodies of water.

Yet with these opportunities, there come risks.

Already we have witnessed this in 2018. Just last weekend, one young girl was killed and a second one injured and still hospitalized in an on-the-water accident. The girls were on inner tubes being pulled by a boat when they were struck by a jet ski. The rider of the jet ski had become ejected from the craft, but it continued under apparent power until it struck the two girls.

Details are still being determined and the incident remains under investigation by the McLean County Sheriff’s Department and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

While it is unknown how this incident could have been avoided, it is just one example of potential threats from the many outdoor sports one can enjoy in our part of the county this time of year. Last year, we experienced other incidents on lakes as well.

It isn’t just lakes. ATVs/UTVs are wildly popular. As of Dec. 31, 2016, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff received reports of 14,653 ATV related fatalities occurring between 1982 and 2016. CPSC staff received reports of 337 ATV related fatalities occurring in 2016, 484 occurring in 2015, and 581 occurring in 2014. (Reporting for the years 2014-2016 is ongoing; these numbers are expected to increase in future reports.)

Go-Carts, dirt bikes, even bicycles routinely play a part in unfortunate incidents in which people are injured.

Of course, this is not to say that people should avoid enjoying these sports. On the contrary, by playing it safe, we enhance the experience by minimizing the chance that a careless oversight will ruin the fun. No one wants to be limited in their capabilities in the summer because of an injury.

Instead, it is imperative to keep safety first in mind. Each type of vehicle/craft has its own set of precautions and safety tips. These specific instructions should be followed. General tips include proper maintenance of your vehicle/craft, having proper safety equipment, watching over children carefully, don’t operate any craft under the influence of alcohol, and making sure someone knows where you are in case you are headed to a more secluded location.

Enjoying our outdoors in the summer is one of many people’s summer highlights. Let’s all keep it that way by being careful and playing it safe.