10 Summer Safety Tips from Utah State Parks
Utah’s state parks are calling your name this summer, promising spectacular scenery and epic outdoor delights. But before you dive headfirst into the excitement, make sure you’re ready for a Safe and memorable experience. Whether you’re hitting the trails, riding the waves, or soaking up the sun, we’ve got ten essential summer safety tips to keep you on track.
First, here are some general security tips you should Always follow, regardless of the season:
- Before setting off on your adventure, be sure to inform a trusted person about your destination and expected return time. It’s always a good idea to have someone aware of your location in case of an emergency.
- Avoid going alone. Bring a friend or family member along as you explore. Having a buddy adds to the fun and also provides an extra layer of security.
- Before you hit the road, check the weather forecast and current park conditions. Be aware of any boat ramp closures, fire restrictions, or other relevant updates that may affect your visit.
- Carry an emergency kit that includes the essentials for handling minor injuries. Familiarize yourself with its contents beforehand and consider adding any additional essentials you think might come in handy, such as sunscreen and insect repellent.
- Bring your cell phone and consider bringing along a radio or other communication devices that can help you reach assistance in an emergency. Staying connected is vital in critical situations.
1. Put on a life jacket: Wear an appropriately sized life jacket for water-related activities such as boating, paddleboarding, kayaking, water skiing, etc. Utah law requires all boats to carry at least one US Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket for each person on board. Passengers aged 12 and under duty wear a properly sized Coast Guard-approved life jacket whenever a boat is in operation. Find more information about the life jacket here.
2. Practice boating safety: If you plan to enjoy Utah’s beautiful lakes and reservoirs, familiarize yourself with the Rules and Regulations. Obey speed limits, watch out for other boats, check water levels and underwater hazards before engaging in water activities, and avoid alcohol consumption while operating a boat. Remember, boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol is just as risky as driving impaired. The penalties are similar: suspended license, possible prison and fines. Always designate a sober pilot to ensure safety on the water. For more boating safety tips from our friends at the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, click here Here.
3. Stay alert to changing conditions: While enjoying the water activities, keep an eye on the weather conditions. Storms can come unexpectedly and conditions can change quickly. Watch for signs of approaching storms, such as darkening skies or sudden changes in wind patterns. If you see signs of an approaching storm, it’s best to err on the side of caution and head back to shore. Prioritize your safety and seek cover until conditions improve.
4. Gear Up With A Helmet: Always wear a helmet when driving All Terrain Vehicles (OHV). Helmets are mandatory for motorcyclists under the age of 18 on public land. We strongly recommended that all, regardless of age, wear a helmet for their safety. A helmet can be a lifesaver, protecting your head from potential injury. Helmets, when worn correctly, do not obstruct vision or hearing and also help reduce wind gusts. Make sure you familiarize yourself with Utah OHV laws and rules Before you hit the trail.
AND . . . helmets aren’t just for when you ride OHV! Whether you’re mountain biking, rock climbing, or engaging in other adrenaline-pumping activities, wearing a helmet is always a good idea.
5. Stay informed about Flash Floods and Swift Water: Utah’s waterways are at extremely high levels due to the heavy snowfall we have received. Please use caution near rivers, streams or fast moving water.
Flash floods can occur suddenly and without warning, particularly in areas with steep terrain, narrow canyons, or dry creek beds. Some state parks, such as Snow Canyon State Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Utahraptor State Park, and Gunlock State Park, have experienced flash flooding in recent years, along with surrounding areas.
Avoid hiking into narrow canyons during rainy times and always pay attention to any warnings or warnings issued. Stay alert, be aware of your surroundings, and take immediate action if necessary. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, seek higher ground as quickly as possible. Don’t wait for the water to reach you, as flash floods can happen quickly. Avoid hiking or camping in areas prone to flash flooding, and never attempt to cross a flooded or fast-moving area. Keep in mind that streams can be deeper than usual and debris may be present due to extreme runoff. For more information and additional advice on flash flood safety, click here.
6. Protect yourself from the sun: Utah summers can be burning, so it’s important to protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated. Wear sunscreen with a high protection factor, a wide-brimmed hat, light, breathable clothing, and sunglasses. Carry plenty of water and take frequent breaks in shaded areas to avoid heat-related illnesses. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to drink plenty of water, shelter from the sun and get adequate rest:
- Dry mouth / skin
- Less frequent urination
- Increased heart rate
7. Practice Bonfire Safety: Did you know that properly controlling and extinguishing campfires could prevent up to 28% of wildfires in Utah? Before you start that roaring fire, make sure you do check and follow any fire restrictions. When it’s time to put out the fire, make sure it is completely out. Here are some additional fire safety tips to keep in mind:
- Never leave fires unattended.
- Keep fires contained within an approved firebox or cleared ground (following local fire restrictions).
- Avoid lighting fires on windy days.
- Keep a fire extinguisher or water nearby, just in case.
- Remember, fireworks are prohibited in Utah State Parks.
- Watch utahfiresense.org for more fire safety advice.
8. Be Prepared For Unpredictable Weather: Utah’s climate can change rapidly. Pack adequate layers of clothing to prepare for sudden changes in temperature or unexpected rain. Bring a waterproof jacket, extra socks, and a hat to stay comfortable in various weather conditions.
9. Follow the “leave no trace” principles: Respect Utah’s natural beauty by practicing the « Leave No Trace » principles. Pack your trash, dispose of waste properly, and avoid disturbing any flora, fauna or historic artifacts. Following the « Leave No Trace » principles is not only an ethical practice, but also contributes to a safer outdoor experience. By minimizing environmental impacts, such as conserving vegetation and wildlife habitats, you reduce the risk of encountering unforeseen hazards or disturbing wildlife. Leave the environment as you found it to preserve it for future generations.
10. Comply with park rules and regulations: Take the time to familiarize yourself with any signs or instructions posted at the park entrance or visitor center. Whether it’s pet guidelines, trail usage, or campground regulations, following park rules and being a responsible visitor is a top priority. By doing so, you contribute to the preservation of Utah State Parks and help create a positive experience for all.
No matter what adventure you take on this summer, your safety should always be a top priority. By following these essential safety tips, you can confidently explore the wonders of nature with minimal risk. Remember, a little caution goes a long way. Stay safe, embrace adventure and enjoy the magic of Utah’s state parks.