In Montana, summer seems to be here and gone before we know it, so we have to make the most of it. You won't want to lose a single day to injury or discomfort, so taking preventative steps to stay safe will help you take full advantage of the good weather and good times. Here are ten tips to help you have a safe summer in Montana this year.
When boating, safety should be a top priority. That means having a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) handy for everyone on board. It's the law, and all kids under the age of 12 on boats 26 feet and under that are in motion are required to wear them at all times. All life jackets should be U.S. Coast Guard approved and properly fitted to the person wearing it. So whether you're floating in a drift boat, whitewater rafting, or speeding around a lake, make sure you've got plenty of PFDs for everyone, regardless of their age.
As UV rays beam down in the summer months, protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancer with some sunblock. Lather any exposed skin with sunscreen (ideally at least 30 SPF), and wear breathable layers and hats when you can.
When wildlife is active in summer, be sure to be on high alert. Making noise as you hike and carrying bear spray does a great job of protecting you from dangerous wildlife interactions. This heavy-duty pepper spray can help shock a bear out of a charge, so carry it on your belt or the outside of your pack, within reach, whenever you travel in bear country.
Drinking and driving poses a severe risk to the driver, passengers, and others nearby. So remember to have your fun, but have a designated driver and a backup plan, and never get in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver. That goes for out on the water or in an ATV, too.
Seat belts are an amazing life-saving tool year-round. But with more cars and wildlife on the roads in summer, seat belts are even more vital for keeping everyone in the car safe. The statistics don't lie: seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017. In that same year, 2,549 more might have been saved if their seatbelts had been buckled.
With the rise of disease-carrying insects, bug repellent does double duty of preventing uncomfortable, itchy bites while also warding off disease. Ticks in Montana have transmitted spotted fever rickettsiosis, and there have been some cases of West Nile Virus contracted from mosquitoes. Your best defense against insect pests is a bug spray with DEET, and it's always a good idea to check for ticks after spending time outside in spring and summer.
When you're enjoying water time in summer, it's important to make sure that you splash around safely. Never swim alone, and make sure to supervise young swimmers while they're in and around the water. Keep in mind that cold water from glacial melt can be a shock to the system when you jump in, causing a sudden deep breath reaction that can be deadly as your head dips underwater. When in doubt, wear a life jacket.
Packing your ten essentials is a vital part of any hiking or backpacking trip. Still, you should also consider bringing these items along for other outdoor recreational activities like boating and car camping. The ten essentials include navigation, a headlamp, sun protection, first aid supplies, a knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water, and extra clothes.
When you're enjoying time outside, especially if you're indulging in an adult beverage or two, it's easy to forget to hydrate. And when you're sweating in warm summer temperatures, your electrolytes may become depleted, making it harder to rehydrate afterward. Grab some Gatorade and pack extra water.
Mosquitos aren't the only critters out in summer that may bite you. Raccoons, snakes, and even off-leash dogs may be the culprits of an uncomfortable situation. Keep your distance from wildlife, especially if you see an animal behaving strangely. That could be a sign that it's sick and could transmit a disease. For any bite from wild animals, it's best to seek immediate medical attention.
As you head into summer adventures, keep staying healthy as a top priority. The healthcare professionals at CHP can help you with wellness checks and personalized medical advice to help you enjoy all that the warm season in Montana has to offer. Get in touch with your nearest clinic to schedule an appointment.