EDITORIAL: Season of fires and water safety is upon us

Be careful when using campfires and area watering holes

Victoria finally has its summer heat wave, with no signs of letting up, at least into next weekend.

For many Greater Victorians that means trips to regional watering holes such at Thetis and Elk lakes, popular beaches like Willows, plenty of barbecuing and catching some rays.

If history is any guide, Victoria summers can also be busy time for first responders.

At the temperature soars for any length of time, more people, often teens and young adults, put themselves at risk for drowning in boating mishaps, cliff jumping missteps and over-confident swimming skills.

Thetis Lake has been the scence for falling injuries and a drowning death every few years. The Sooke Potholes also sees a few broken bones from poorly aimed cliff jumps and the occasional drowning tragedy.

These deaths and injuries are preventable, and usually go hand in hand with intoxication, bravado and high temperatures. B.C. had four water-related deaths in the first five days of July, prompting a plea by the Corners Service of B.C. for people to contemplate water safety and to better understand the risks of jumping into unfamiliar rivers and lakes.

The Capital Region is a playground of parks, lakes and rivers for summer fun, and most have plenty of information available on hazards. But mostly, safety comes with caution and common sense.

The other hot weather disasters waiting to happen are the annual highway-side brush and forest fires.

The region’s commuter routes continue to be the region’s ashtray. Flicking cigarette butts into dry grass is a choice people make, and only by fast-acting fire response has the city avoided major property damage from grassfires.

More problematic are the city’s prized urban forests and large regional parks. Most of these areas have large fuel loads of deadfall, leaves and brush built up over decades or longer.

During these dry days, a careless cigarette or an illicit campfire could spark a major forest fire near residential neighbourhoods. Victoria’s lucky streak is bound to run out one of these summers.

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