NW View: Sizzling summer temps bring new set of hazards

Even though the official start of summer isn’t here for a few more days, the recent blazing temperatures sure make us feel like it’s here already.

Warm weather and longer hours of daylight do wonders for the soul but also bring their own set of hazards.

We’ve already had drownings and wildfires, two of the big dangers of summer. While tragedies can happen in any season, summer is a prime time for both.

Many people just don’t realize how cold and swift the waters in our rivers are. They look so inviting on a hot day but even the strongest of swimmers have a hard time contending with the mighty Columbia.

Wearing a life jacket – even if you’re just wading in from shore – is the best bet. Loaner stations are located in parks around the region if you don’t have a life jacket of your own.

Make sure to explain to children and newcomers to the area that irrigation canals aren’t for swimming. Even though the canals likely will be lower this year because of the drought, they are still very dangerous.

Speaking of the drought, we’ll all be contending with less water for irrigating our lawns. Area irrigation districts already are saying to expect brown yards and the goal is to get just enough water to homes to keep the lawns alive.

So that makes it even more imperative that we all look around our properties and take measures to prevent fires. Dry conditions are going to provide extra fuel for flames.

Keep combustibles away from your home. Don’t pile up weeds, branches or grass clippings. Consider transitioning to xeriscaping – landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need for irrigation water. Right now, it’s a choice and an aesthetic but someday it may be a requirement. Our region’s native plants did just fine before irrigation changed our landscape and afforded us lush lawns.

Make sure you mind your barbecues as you enjoy the summer evenings. Check hoses on propane tanks for leaks with soapy water. Dispose of used coals properly – not in your garbage can.

For the smokers out there, please do us all a favor and don’t flick your butts out the car window while you’re cruising down the road. And if you’re smoking on your patio or deck, don’t use a planter as an ashtray. Potting soil burns.

Things like lightning strikes – a big cause of summertime fires – are out of our control. But we can all take steps to make it a safer season on several fronts.

We want everyone to have an enjoyable summer.