By RANDAL C. HILL
A-a-a-h. Father’s Day. Some of you will choose to spend the day in a La-Z-Boy with a remote in one hand and a cool drink in the other. Others may experience an attack of biophilia – an innate desire to connect with nature. Florida, for all its natural glories, can pose some special problems this time of year, mainly in the form of wildlife and wild weather, so let’s review some potential hazards before you head out for the fun.
Skeeters. These little suckers can turn almost any outdoor activity into
a miserable experience—or even a serious illness like Zika or West Nile.
The most effective repellent against mosquitoes contains DEET but there
are some natural alternatives available.
Snakes. Florida is home to six venomous serpents—the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, pygmy rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, coral snake, copperhead and the water moccasin. Learn to identify each one, stay on cleared paths, give snakes their space — and listen for rattles.
Gators and Crocs. Florida is the only U.S. state where both alligators and crocodiles exist, and each is a leathery hunk of dangerous teeth and claws. Always observe from a distance and never offer them food. (It’s illegal,
by the way.)
Poisonous Plants. Poison ivy is Florida’s most common poisonous plant, identifiable by three shiny green leaves and a red stem. It is usually
found alongside riverbanks. If you become infected, thoroughly wash the
area and apply calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream. Never ingest
Storms. Florida is known as the lightning capital of the nation with more injuries and deaths attributed to these brilliant flashes of nature than any other state. When thunderclouds threaten, move indoors, never use a tree as shelter, and avoid tall and metal objects. If you can’t get inside a building, move to a non-convertible car. (Contrary to popular myth, it’s a car’s framework—not the rubber
tires—that absorb the potentially lethal bolts.)
Heat. Florida’s sun can be deadly in the summer. Besides drinking plenty
of water, head out for adventure by wearing a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
and non-slip shoes. It’s best to dress in lightweight, moisture-wicking
garments and pick activities that take place in shady, cooler environments
and during morning and late afternoon hours.
JUNE 17, 2018
Many may feed their passion for nature by camping, hiking, boating, fishing or golfing on Father’s Day, so here are a few additional tips for those pursuits.
Camping and hiking. You’ve
spent a balmy evening under the stars,
now Mother Nature beckons. Before
launching into your walk, doublecheck
to make sure you have your
basic first aid kit, adequate water (at
least 64 ounces per day per person),
and that you’ve left your campsite as
you found it, making sure the fire is
out and the trash is safely disposed of.
Check for any ticks on you and your
pet after your woodland hike.
Boating. With an azure sky above
and an expanse of liquid glass ahead,
you ease the throttle forward, ready
for the best Dad’s Day ever. Make sure
to leave a float plan with the marina
or a family member which includes
your name, address, phone number,
departure, location, expected
arrival time, boat make and
model. Don a life jacket. Plan to
drink plenty of water and delay
the partying until safely ashore
since booze affects response time
and the ability to focus on what you’re
doing. Check local forecasts and radar
and always take a radio with you
before casting off. If clouds threaten,
head back to shore quickly. Finally,
travel at a safe speed and be aware
of other watercraft and objects in the
Fishing. If the thought of reeling
in the evening’s dinner makes you
eager to bait that hook and drop it into
the sparkling clear water, go fish. Ah,
but beforehand make sure you inform
others as to your plans, be aware of
your surroundings, and never wade
and cast at the same time. Plant your
feet first, then toss your line. And wear
a life jacket too, just in case you take
Golfing. On the golf course, acres
of green manicured lawn are yours
without all the work. Before you take
the first swing, make sure you’ve
warmed up with stretches and trunk twists. Drink water and avoid alcohol to
avert potential accidents and hydration
problems. Watch the weather and if lightning occurs on the course, be sure to
get away from open ground, isolated large trees and bodies of water. Take shelter in a
building, a restroom or a car, avoiding all
contact with metal including golf clubs, umbrellas and golf carts.