Stay safe when you’re having fun outdoors

A generation ago, staying safe when playing or doing outdoor activities was all about the perils of ‘stranger danger’ and looking both ways before crossing the road. These days, a lot of the focus has been shifted towards staying safe online. This reflects the change in our lifestyles over that time. We are now more sedentary, stay-at-home types who spend a lot of time interacting with others via social media and online games. The relatively new world of cyberspace opened up now ways for us to live out our lives, but also presented criminals with opportunities which we were slow to deal with – the theft of personal information, banking details, passwords and so on, along with the spread of illegal pornography, narcotics and weapons, on to the grooming of children and vulnerable people for real world exploitation.

All of that is clearly important, but, even though we do seem to spend a lot of our time staring at screens, we do still venture outside. Therefore, it’s still necessary to do our best to remain as safe as possible at those time we decide to pass our leisure time outdoors.

Riding a bicycle is a great way to get around, and it also offers a sense of freedom – out in the fresh air and the sunshine, you can explore areas that you wouldn’t otherwise have time to get to on foot, or that you might miss in a motor vehicle. The riskiest aspect of cycling is obviously the chance of collisions, with other vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and other obstacles. The most important thing to do is to wear the right safety equipment. You can find helmets and all kinds of safety equipment at Make sure that your helmet and pads fit properly, and that you adjust them to give the right amount of protection – not too slack and not too tight. Children shouldn’t cycle on busy roads, and shouldn’t be cycling on thoroughfares at all until they have mastered cycling techniques.

In the US, you don’t need a license to ride a bicycle on roads, but you should ride according with the rules of the road, including respecting rights of way, indicating and so on. If you are teaching a child to cycle safely, make sure they are aware of the dangers of turning vehicles, parked cars opening their doors, stopping distances and other road users who don’t follow the rules. They must be sure to be as visible as possible. Performing stunts and showing off have no place on the road.

Depending on where you live and the time of year, you will need to determine whether it is safe to go outside at all, and if so, what clothing is most suitable. If you are planning to spend a long time outdoors, check the weather forecast for the area you intend to be in, along with any local warnings for floods, avalanches, forest fires and so on. Most weather reports these days include information about pollen levels, vehicle emissions and other pollutants and allergens. If you, or someone in your party suffers from asthma, hay fever, or another condition, you might want to take medication along with you, or postpone the activity until conditions are more favorable.

Icy conditions, especially when the ice has been covered with snow, can make many situations dangerous. In addition to the danger of slipping and falling, there is also the risk of suffering from frostbite or hypothermia. Be sure to dress in layers and cover your extremities. If you expect to be in contact with snow, wear a waterproof outer layer.

Conversely, when the weather is hot, it is important to have access to water, and to ensure you don’t become dehydrated. Think twice before entering deserted areas in hot weather. Simply getting lost can cause you to lose your life, as you die due to dehydration or heatstroke. Wear a hat and long, loose clothing to protect against sunburn and insects. Children should be shown how to put on sunscreen properly. In particularly sunny areas, it is necessary to wear sunglasses to avoid damaging your eyes and getting into accidents due to the glare.