A TIMELY REMINDER
Summer is upon us and we are all eager to get outside and enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities. Hiking, camping, fishing, boating, picnicking and a plethora of other outdoor activities are enjoyed by millions of people each year and they can be very enjoyable. However, it's a good idea to remember that nature has teeth and they will bite you, even kill you if you are careless.
One of the major causes of accidental deaths in the United States each year is lighting strikes. Anglers and floaters are especially at risk of being struck by lightning. If you are in a boat on a lake, pond, ocean or stream you are the highest thing around, and a fishing rod is a great lightning rod. To increase your odds of being safe there are a few steps that you can follow.
- Check the local weather report before you venture out. If the risk of thunder showers is high you might want to curtail your plans or fish in an area where you can get to shelter quickly if a storm should materialize.
- Be observant. Even if the weather forecast does not indicate any thunder showers in your area keep an eye to the sky. If you see a thundershower building, if possible get off the water.
- Don't think you're safe if the storm appears to be several miles away. Lightning can strike several miles away from the actual storm and has been known to strike from an apparently clear sky.
- If you are floating, at the first sound of thunder or a visible bolt of lightning put all fishing rods in the bottom of the boat. If you are wading carry your rod in a horizontal position with the tip lower than your head.
- Do not take shelter under trees. Every year people hiding under trees or bushes are subject to being struck by lightning. If you cannot get to a solid structure or a vehicle you should find a spot away from the trees, power lines and fences with metal wire and posts, put your rod flat on the ground, crouch down, and balance on the balls of your feet. This will minimize the amount of your body that is in contact with the ground. You do not need to receive a direct hit from a lightning bolt to suffer harm. Lightning can travel through the ground, especially when it's wet. Standing in water when lightning strikes nearby can have just as devastating results as if you had been struck directly.
Another major cause of accidental deaths each year, especially in the warm summer months, is drowning. As anglers, we spend lots of time on or in the water when we are pursuing our sport and each year some of us go out fishing and don't come back because we were careless around water. Water does not care if it causes your demise and we need to respect it. Here are some very simple rules that will help insure that you don't become another statistic
- Use a personal floatation device when you are in a boat. This is especially important when you are on a lake, pond, ocean or deep swift water, and it's particularly important when you are wearing waders or heavy clothing. Most states require a Coast Guard Approved personal floatation device for each passenger in a boat, and many states require people under a certain age to wear them whenever they are in a watercraft.
- If you are using a float tube or personal pontoon boat always wear a personal floatation device. These devices can deflate suddenly and the last thing you want to hear when you're in the middle of a lake is a hissing sound coming from your float tube or pontoon boat and you don't have a floatation device.
- When wading know your limits. Many of us are getting long-in-the-tooth and despite an unwillingness to admit it we are not kids anymore you can't ignore time. Don't let pride be the source of your demise, so use a wading staff; it gives you an extra leg. Soft bottoms covered with several inches of sticky muck maybe too much for old legs to negotiate. Getting your feet struck in the mud may not result in a loss of life but it can be really humiliating to have your buddies have to come and pull you to shore.
- Just because you were able to wade a particular piece of water years ago don't assume that you still can. Moving water that is over mid-calf deep, especially when flowing over rocks and broken cobble, can quickly turn dangerous for older anglers. No fish is worth a serious injury or loss of life. "Turn around, don't drown" is a common warning given to drivers that are tempted to drive though flooded roadways, but it's also a good warning for anglers.
Of course you want to remember sun screen, insect repellent, a hat, sunglasses, and, oh yes, common sense. These simple tips will go a long way in keeping you safe while you are having fun in the coming months.