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Summer recreation, safety

F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- The 101 critical days of summer are rapidly approaching and the time to start preparing is now. Wyoming has an abundance of recreational opportunities to enjoy during the summer months, but it's crucial to enjoy them safely. While there is something for everyone, every recreational opportunity has its own special set of safety considerations that should be weighed before participating.

Wyoming is a big state with vast, remote sections of wilderness, national forests, grasslands and national parks. These areas provide great opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, ATVing and an array of other activities. However, every year people get lost or injured in these locations because they are inadequately prepared or lack proper equipment.

Every year, the Air Force loses Airmen in motor sports accidents. Before active-duty Airmen get on a motorcycle, they need to take the mandatory motorcycle safety class and obtain the proper personal protection equipment. Contact your squadron motorcycle safety representative for more information on class availability and location. There are many miles of beautiful roads to be enjoyed while riding here in Wyoming, and it's important to enjoy them safely.

Training is also mandatory before operating a motorized boat on Wyoming's waterways. The boaters' safety course is available online. Lastly, while training is not mandatory, it's equally as important to wear personal protective equipment while operating an ATV.

The mixture of summer temperatures, the dry climate, and the high elevation are a perfect combination for heat and altitude-related illnesses and injuries. These types of illnesses and injuries can be much more easily prevented than they can be remedied while in the field. Make sure you bring plenty of water and stay hydrated at all times. Also, know your physical limitations - take frequent breaks to enjoy the scenery and drink water. If you are planning an extended trip make sure there will be water available on your route and that you have a means to filter or purify your water to prevent water-borne illnesses such as giardia.

With almost 28 million acres of public land available for recreation in Wyoming, it's important to maintain situational awareness at all time to prevent getting lost or stranded. Plan your trip ahead of time, have an accurate map or GPS (and know how to use it), and let someone not going on the trip know your plan and when to expect you home. Additionally, it's important to be aware of bears and mountain lions in these areas to try and prevent encounters with these animals and know how to properly respond in the event of an encounter.

For more information on safety contact your squadron safety representative. For more information on the recreational opportunities available in the local area, get in touch with the outdoor recreation center.

I highly encourage everyone to get out and enjoy all the recreational opportunities available here in Wyoming, but do so safely!