Vacations, family gatherings and outdoor activities are on our agenda this time of year. Although we look forward to time away from jobs and the stresses of daily life, the carefree days of summer should not become the careless days of summer, especially concerning family safety.
Most Oklahoma State Parks are located on or near a body of water, and during these hot sultry days, any type of water activity is a popular choice for cooling off and relaxation. Water vacations are popular in Oklahoma because of the many lakes and rivers across the state.
Before you pack the swimsuit, goggles and swim fins, the first step in planning a getaway is a visit to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department's newest website: checkmyoklake.com
This helpful website contains valuable information and links to state and federal agencies with the most up-to-date status of Oklahoma lakes. The general focus of checkmyoklake.com is to offer educational information regarding blue-green algae (BGA) and how the waterborne bacteria affect Oklahoma waterways. Several categories on the website contain informational articles on how BGA has an effect on the health of animals and people after coming in contact with water where blooms are present. Images of algae blooms help visitors to recognize its presence in the water and pages devoted to frequently asked questions and BGA research offer information about the dangerous blooms. In addition, links to other state authorities include the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Oklahoma Water Resources Board, and the Grand River Dam Authority.
Also, unfortunately, water-related accidents and drowning are prevalent during this time of year.
The most important accessory for your water adventure is a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket. Accidental drowning happens to even the most experienced swimmers. Although small children are the most at-risk, numerous adults drown each year. For proper-fitting guidelines and helpful information about PFDs, visit the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety website (dps.state.ok.gov) to get a complete list of water safety rules as well as a boating handbook that can be printed and placed aboard your watercraft.
Nobody wants to worry about injuries while on vacation, but a first-aid kit is a necessity when you're away from home.
A basic kit should include adhesive bandages, butterfly bandages for large cuts, first-aid or burn cream, tweezers, pain medication like aspirin or acetaminophen, rubbing alcohol and gauze or cotton balls.
Before leaving your home and heading to an unfamiliar location, find the nearest hospital or emergency clinic and temporarily program the address or phone numbers into your cellphone. Of course calling 911 is the best option for a true emergency.
Keli Clark is marketing coordinator for Oklahoma State Parks.