by Lynne Frank

Summer is a great time for geocaching! Children are off school, families take holidays. I’ve introduced geocaching to grandparents who want to find a common hobby with their grandchild. This ‘game’ attracts gadget geeks, outdoorsy-types, historians and many adventurers like ‘Scary Pirates!’

I am often out with my hand held GPS mid-summer feeding the mosquitoes. Ahh, those things. Let’s talk about having fun and staying safe in summer. When you’re out for a hike and/or geocaching, there are some very important things to consider.

One; Bug spray! Flies and mosquitoes. If you are in deep grass and woods, or if you sweat a lot, you may need to reapply the stuff. Oh, and if you need an epi pen, carry it always!

TICKS are common in our climate and can do much more long-term damage, (Lyme disease). It is recommended you wear your socks over your pant legs! Check yourself, your child and your dog for these cling-ons when you are finished your hike. Using tweezers, grab the critter as close to your skin as you dare and pull straight up. You don’t want pieces left behind. If there are, get them out with the tweezers or draw them out with some hydrogen peroxide. Wash up well. If you see a rash, go to your doctor!

Two; Water! Even a short hike can bring on the thirst. Small children over-heat quicker than us adults. If you have a dog with you, bring some sort of portable drinking dish for it. I don’t let my lab slurp just any puddle or swamp! She’ll get smelly and possibly sick,… and that makes for a long ride home.

Three; Water! Roads! It drive me nuts to see wee children wander more than an arm’s length away from a parent when in or near water and roadways. Don’t rely on other people to be as vigilant as you should be. Oh, and be aware of things like poison ivy and nettles, yikes!

Four; Sunscreen and a Hat! Shade is great, but UV rays still filter through so put on sunscreen, wear a hat. Be wary of heat exhaustion. Do not leave your child or pet in a parked vehicle.

Five; Batteries! If you use a hand-held GPS, carry extra batteries. Is your camera charged? Cel phone, i-Pod, etc. for the day’s activities? There are various quick-charge devices available now to keep your gadgets fresh so you can enjoy all your adventures.

Six; The right clothing. You may not want to wear open-toed shoes for a hike in the bush, nor boots if you’re on the main shopping street… Use a small backpack for extras and throw the ‘just in case’ stuff in the trunk of your car. I bring swim suits & towels, a large thermos of water for refills, and a small first aid kit if we’re out for a day of biking or hiking and caching. A walking stick is nice to use when hiking on uneven trails, clearing spider webs or poking gently into a tree hallow before retrieving that cache!

No doubt you may be rolling your eyes by now, but remember too that your energy level and tolerance for discomfort may be higher than those you’re travelling with. The only thing you want is the smiley face on your homepage, not a long-term life-altering disease or a week’s worth of sunburn and blisters.