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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Have fun, but be safe this summer*

What comes to mind when you hear the word "summer?" Water? Watermelons? Flip flops? Shorts and shirts? Sunscreen? Camping? Mountaineering? Summer camps? Vacation Bible schools? Outdoor concerts? Outdoor barbecues? Weekend getaways? Road trips? Summer vacation? Summer safety? Thunderstorms? Hurricane season?

Yes, summertime is here in the Northern Hemisphere. With hot, humid weather, it's time to turn our air conditioners on! Electric fans are in demand, and so are bags of ice.

With longer days than nights, we tend to sleep late because we try to enjoy being outdoors, basking in the sun, engaging in physical activities. Everyone gets active and energized while enjoying daylight. Who wouldn't want to be outside, enjoying Mother Nature?

The verdant mountains and hills are inviting! And so are the beaches, lakes, rivers and shores---ready for everyone, young and old. Children love to wade in the water and to build sand castles.
 ike school administrators, have to report for work. It's time to review and update school curriculum and school plant conditions to meet the needs of the changing, digital world.

Summer offers the opportunity for those in authority to inspect and fix structural damages and repair or replace school buildings, equipment and school supplies.

For some teachers, like my wife Freny, summer is the time to participate in professional development training programs to earn continuing education units needed for professional teaching license recertification.

Meanwhile, while we're enjoying summer and its offerings, let's not forget summer safety. It's east to be carried away by the sights and sounds of summer. But, as they say, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Take for example, swimming in the open water. Don't underestimate the power of water. Young and old can be a drowning victim if they don't take precautions when in the water.

Sunburn and prolonged heat exposure to the sun can be dangerous. Use suntan lotion or sunscreen, shades and a light hat or umbrella when necessary.

Drink plenty of water, too, to rehydrate or maintain balance of body fluids. Likewise, wear light, cotton clothes, not dark ones, when in the beach or oceanfront.

Our pets and the elderly are also vulnerable to extreme heat during summertime. Our felines and canines matter, when they're out there in our backyard or in dog parks. When walking your dogs, make sure they're leased and that a bottled water is ever ready.

On the other hand, our elderly need not be deprived of summer sunlight. But they, especially those with disabilities, need supervision, monitoring and ready assistance when they're outdoors, enjoying the sights and sounds (and smell) of summer. After all, they, too, deserve to enjoy summer.

Outdoor barbecues and cookouts in backyards are also a popular sight of summer. We have to be careful when using our grills, whether with charcoal or propane gas. As the saying goes, when there's smoke, there's fire. Before firing up that grill, have that hose or a pail of water ready. Check with your city regarding outdoor fires.

Summer is a respite from school, even if only a short one. It's an opportunity to be more intimate with Mother Nature, enjoying God's creation in its natural beauty. Enjoy it while you can. But spend it wisely and safely.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, June 22, 2017. For more information, visit

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