REGION – It’s the time of year to start thinking of getting back into the woods and onto ponds and lakes. Here are some common-sense safety tips for springtime hiking and boating.

Before hiking, check the weather forecast – weather conditions can change very quickly this time of year. In addition, be aware that the weather can be different on the summits of mountains. Snow, freezing rain, and disorienting fog can occur quickly at higher elevations.

Wearing layers is important, as this makes it easy to add and remove clothing as conditions change. As always, proper footwear is important. Boots should be waterproof, have good tread, and provide protection for your ankles.

An essential spring hiking daypack should include a quality rain jacket, an extra pair of wool socks, and the pack should be water resistant or have a rain cover. Carry water, some food, matches, and a small first aid kit in case you get lost or injured in the woods. As with hiking in any season, be sure to let someone know what your plans are and when you will be returning.

Kayaking and boating on lakes and ponds in springtime can be dangerous too. Again, as in all seasons, it is important to tell someone where you are going and when you are returning.

The main thing to keep in mind in Springtime is that the water will still be cold. For instance, 55 degree water may not sound cold, but it can be very dangerous if you are not prepared for what sudden immersion will do to your body and brain. Water this temperature will draw out body heat four times faster than cold air will. Cold shock can cause drastic changes to blood pressure, heart rate and your breathing. Cold shock and the rapid onset of hypothermia can quickly impact your ability to think and act. A life jacket should be worn, not just stowed in your craft. It will allow you to preserve energy while also keeping you afloat, thus creating time to get out of danger or allow help to arrive.

Be safe out there.

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