Be wise, very wise

An east wind brought along some cooler temperatures this weekend, but with it came a haze in the sky caused by forest fires in Quebec.

The national news has been full of reports in recent weeks of uncontrollable events in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Alberta. The ravaging nature of out-of-control fire leaves little in its path and stops for no one, despite best efforts by fire crews to get infernos under control.

Residents have been uprooted and forced to leave their homes and businesses. Upon their return a lifetime of memories in many cases has been reduced to ash. Fires are so unforgiving.

Despite lightning events and wholly accidental triggers, safeguarding communities and neighbourhoods demands people use their heads. Unfortunately, that call for the exercise of common sense is a real challenge for some.

Although fire bans have been limited in Ontario, there is a case for that call now. Extremely warm weather, drying vegetation and an absence of precipitation has made conditions ideal for fires to take off quickly. Despite even the best laid plans, with available water to douse flames, all it takes is a flicker or ash landing out of view for a larger fire to start.

This is sad news for Canadians weary of winter and hoping for outdoor recreation. On canoe trips, camping expeditions and even at a backyard gathering, a campfire is often the centrepiece for socializing. Singing songs, cooking wieners and marshmallows or stepping it up with s’mores – these are all fun pastimes when the sun goes down.

The fire service will tell you a mess of coals takes a long time to completely burn out, without the aid of water or some soil on top for good measure. It can even be a little unnerving for responsible outdoors folks. 

For the carefree and oblivious, the potential for a serious life-altering fire event doesn’t quite enter their mind. A number of years back, when fully plugged in with the Guelph/Eramosa fire department, summertime reports often referenced unsafe fires either too large or too close to buildings. Chatting after the meeting, some of the goings-on were just plain stupid in the extreme. 

The attending fire officer would get chastised for “not letting people just have some fun.” The problem of course is that reckless fun can be disastrous not just for the property owner and guests, but also the neighbourhood and community at large. 

As camping season starts, be wise with fire – it demands respect.

Water safety

Prior to school letting out, we seem to note each year the necessity for water safety. It is a bit of a personal project, having survived a drowning, witnessed a near-drowning, and knowing people who have lost family due to drownings.

It is always advisable to get kids into swimming lessons early, but we suspect in recent years some have missed that chance due to the pandemic. That should give adults an extra incentive to watch even more closely around pools and swimming spots.

There are many versions of watercraft now that have become part of summer. Even decent swimmers should really think about wearing a life jacket, and for those who do a mean dog paddle and not much else, a safety device is an absolute must. 

Summer in Canada is the best – let’s make it a safe one this year.