2017-07-13 / Editorials

Enjoy our natural wonders, but please do so responsibly

Our readers like to get outdoors and take in all the natural beauty Ventura County has to offer. There are those who relish hiking and biking throughout the surrounding Santa Monica Mountains and those who love to surf and swim at our local beaches.

But with the warmer summertime months, there inevitably come stories about residents who underestimate the power of Mother Nature.

Here are some tips from local agencies to help keep you safe on land and in the sea.

For those seeking to explore our great hiking trails—and who don’t want taxpayers to pay for a rescue helicopter to ferry them to safety—the National Park Service has several recommendations:

Travel with a buddy or let someone know your plans.

Carry plenty of water and drink it. Water is not safe to drink from streams and ponds due to possible contamination or the presence of the Giardia parasite.

Wear proper footwear.

Bring snacks, extra clothing and a flashlight.

Wear sun protection, including sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.

Dogs must be leashed at all times. Dogs are not allowed on state park trails.

Camping is restricted to established campgrounds only. Permits are required.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office offers a handy hiking plan at www.bit.ly/2uScluK for hikers to print, fill out and leave with family or friends before taking off on the trail. Officials also recommend hikers carry a map, a whistle and a cellphone.

For those looking to spend a day at the beach, safety is just as important.

Despite what you hear about sharks off our coast (busy beaches are safest), you’re statistically 132 times more likely to drown at the beach than be bitten by a shark, according to the University of Florida. (You’re also more likely to be killed by a vending machine than a shark.)

The California State Parks lifeguard and aquatics programs offer these tips:

Never swim alone.

Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.

Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard protected beach.

Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.

If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.

Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim toward shore.

If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore.

Remember, first-responders have better things to do than rescue local adventure seekers who throw caution to the wind. Follow these steps and you won’t be the next.

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