Summer is just around the corner. Whether you're hanging around town or headed back to your home state, you're probably already planning to take part in one of these five big summer activities.

Take a few minutes to Be Hokie Ready and review these tips from Virginia Tech Emergency Management. Then when you're sweating it out on the trail, floating down the river, or just kicking back in your yard, you'll be more prepared to make informed decisions about your personal safety.

1. Hiking

Hiking

Heading out on trail is all the more tempting after the thermostat hits 70 degrees, but don’t treat your next hiking trip like just another walk in the park. In addition to your regular prep, consider the three big warm-weather concerns:

  • Critters. Woodland creatures are more active in the spring and summer months — especially insects. Protect yourself with a healthy dose of bug spray on exposed skin and clothing, and do a quick body-sweep when you’re changing out of your gear to check for stowaways.
  • Clothing. Sure, it might be blistering hot outside, but cotton tanks and flip-flops just aren’t going to cut it on the trail. Wear clothes that are moisture wicking, including long pants or tall socks, hiking shoes, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Clean water. Plan ahead to guarantee you have enough water for the duration of your trip — not just the random bottle of Hokie Water that’s rolling around on your car floor. Everyone in your group needs their own water bottle and (preferably) an additional collapsible reservoir or water purification system for filling up on the go.

2. Camping

Camping

Summer is a great time to rediscover your love of the outdoors at your nearest campground. However, if its been a while since you’ve made s’mores somewhere other than your backyard, remember you need to:

  • Secure your shelter. Whether that’s just locking your car or actually staking down your tent, make sure your shelter is battened down before you hit the hay.
  • Stash your food. At the minimum, keep your grub in an airtight container. But really the best way to keep your treats away from scavengers is to tie it up in a tree.
  • Tend your fire. Set up your campsite to keep your fire a safe distance from your tent, extinguish it before going to bed, and take care when cooking over open flames.

3. Swimming

Swimming

You don’t have to dig your water wings out of storage at mom’s house to keep yourself safe at the pool, lake, or beach. Taking these little precautions will make a big difference:

  • Bring a friend. Many area pools do not have lifeguards posted, so have a buddy with you and look out for each other while you’re having fun.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Get out of the water when lightning gets within eight miles — if you are in Blacksburg you can even set up a notification in the Virginia Tech WeatherSTEM mobile app for iOS or Android that will let you know when lightning gets close.
  • Charge your phone. Having enough battery life to post to your SnapStory all day long will also ensure you can call for help if needed.

4. Tubing

Tubing

Tubing is a great way to kick back and enjoy the New River without a lot of legwork, but don’t forget that you’re relaxing in a rapidly changing waterway. Stay smart and make sure you:

  • Cover up. You might feel cool and care-free while you’re out on the water, but you’re essentially baking in the hot sun and floating with unknown amounts of dirt and debris — so put on shoes and sunscreen.
  • Don’t bring additional hazards. One shattered glass bottle and a trip to the emergency room can ruin the river for everyone.
  • Know how to float without your tube. If you fall out of your tube and feel yourself being swept away, point your feet down river and keep your head up until you can swim safely to the shore.

5. Attending outdoor events

Events

Festivals, concerts, sports games, parties — from April to October, outdoor events are a dime a dozen. No matter which ones you’ve got coming up this summer, there are a few things you can do to stay safe:

  • Look at the weather before you go. Whether you decide to tough it out through a rainstorm to see your favorite band or to move your backyard barbecue from your house to the bar, checking weather forecasts in advance of your event will allow you to prep for the actual conditions outside instead of scrambling last-minute to make things work.
  • Locate emergency resources. If you’re at a major event, take note of where emergency resources like first-aid and law enforcement are set-up as soon as you walk in. Then, if you do end up needing help, you can seek them out as quickly as possible. Also, go ahead and scout out some additional exits, just in case you can't leave through the same entrance you came in through.
  • Have an exit plan. If you end up having to leave your event for an emergency, remember to stay calm and follow instructions from event staff quickly and efficiently. If weather is a concern, seek shelter in a grounded structure if possible, although getting in a car is another good option. Encourage others to move with you, but don’t wait for the people around you to move before taking action.

Learn more about Being Hokie Ready

  • Follow the Office of Emergency Management on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates
  • Download the LiveSafe Mobile App to keep safety tips on hand at all times
  • Want to help promote preparedness on campus? Consider joining our Student Advisory Board
  • View our heat advisory and lightning guides for tips on what to do before, during, and after severe summer weather.

Last updated April 27, 2016