Editorial: Let’s be careful out there
It’s been said that people come to Colorado for the winters, but they stay for the summers. And, certainly, there’s a solid argument to be made for the truth of that statement.
As beautiful as our winters are, there’s still nothing quite so pleasant as watching the green spread back across our valley after lying months dormant beneath drifts of cold white. The days grow warm and long, and a whole new world of activities appears before us.
Biking, hiking, camping, floating, fishing — all these and more open up to us as summer takes hold. And we encourage everyone to take full advantage of the boundless outdoor recreational opportunities we are afforded simply by virtue of where we live.
But, while you’re out there having fun, it’s important to remember that the season of outdoor fun in the sun also brings its share of danger. Every year, we hear far too many stories about people being seriously injured or killed, and even worse, most of these incidents turn out to be tragically preventable.
Those of us who live here already know about the potential hazards, but summertime in Colorado also brings visitors, many of whom might be arriving here without the knowledge they need to stay safe. That said, we offer a few tips for enjoying all Northwest Colorado has to offer while avoiding the possible pitfalls.
The kids are out
With the end of the spring school term, kids are out enjoying their summer, as well, and often, kids aren’t as quite mindful as they should be. That means we — as adults — must be even more mindful.
While you’re driving, please be watchful for children who may not have looked both ways before riding or running into the street. It’s also not a bad idea to just take things a little slower, in general, particularly when driving in areas children frequent. Sure, you might be a few minutes later getting where you’re going, but you might really need a little of that extra time if you find yourself bearing down on a kid who just pedaled into your lane.
Additionally, always remember to buckle up at all times. It’s been said many times, but seatbelts save lives.
Moffat County is currently under Stage 1 fire restrictions, which place strict prohibitions on most outdoor burning, and with more dry weather ahead, there’s a good chance these restrictions will be upgraded. There’s good reason these restrictions were put in place. Those of us who live here know how easily a single spark can grow into 20,000-acre inferno, but some of our visitors likely do not. Please, observe the restrictions, and should you see anyone engaging in prohibited or risky behavior with fire, please take a moment to educate them.
The property — and life — you save may be your own.
The need for proper hydration can hardly be overstated, particularly in a climate as dry as ours. At high altitudes, oxygen and atmospheric pressure are both lower, causing water to evaporate via the lungs and skin at a higher rate than at lower altitudes, and increased summertime activities accelerate these processes.
Even without increased activity, studies suggest people at higher altitudes should drink twice the recommended amount of water as those living at lower altitudes.
For many, one of the greatest allures of Colorado is its abundance of wildlife, and while the state is home to a host of magnificent creatures, it should be remembered that many of these animals are potentially as dangerous as they are beautiful.
Enjoy these animals from a distance, and never harass or attempt to approach them.
Getting that selfie with a moose is definitely not worth the potential consequences.
On the water
Last winter’s dismal snowpack, coupled with an uncharacteristically dry spring, means lower river levels and flow rates. If you’re floating, be aware of potential foot entrapments, and wear a flotation device whenever you’re on the water.
And, if you’re not as confident as you’d like in the water, consider taking swimming lessons before setting out.
We do not write this to discourage outdoor recreation — indeed, quite the opposite. We hope everyone — resident and visitor, alike — will get outside as much as possible this summer and enjoy the natural wonders Northwest Colorado has to offer.
In short, don’t be afraid — just be aware, and be careful.