OUT: Haggerty’s Hikes Column May 24, 2009

Make this weekend memorable,

PAY ATTENTION this Memorial Day weekend when enjoying the outdoors, such as biking along Rim Rock Road on Colorado National Monument, mother Haggerty says. BILL HAGGERTY/The Daily Sentinel



It’s Memorial Day weekend, and here are a few things my Mom always told us Haggerty kids when we were growing up, so as not to make the weekend more memorial than it was intended to be:

•  Don’t play near high water — you could drown;

• Lather up with sunscreen, wear a hat and keep your shirt on or your pearly white Irish skin will sear like a red russet potato in a hot-greased frying pan;

• Don’t play with matches. You’ll burn down the whole neighborhood;

• Be careful on your bike. Pay attention to traffic because those crazy drivers may not be able to see you;

Now, as a parent, I’m adding another Memorial Day ditty:

•  If your brain is only worth a buck, don’t worry about it. Otherwise, wear a helmet.
No. Really.

Let’s start with that water thing. As a note in your Daily Sentinel on Tuesday stated: “It may feel like summer, with temperatures on Monday topping 90 degrees. But now is not the time to take to the rivers of the region, at least not in questionable craft with improper safety equipment.”

By last Wednesday, the Colorado River was flowing at more than 26,900 cubic feet per second near the Utah state line. That’s well below historic peak flows. Nonetheless, that’s a rip-snortin’ river.

As Tuesday’s editions noted, “A trip on the river right now is the very antithesis of a leisurely float on a lazy river.”

The Colorado and Gunnison rivers are both peaking. So is the Dolores.  “Traveling on the rivers in capable rafts with experienced oarsmen and proper safety gear is one thing. But leave the inner tubes at home for now. Don’t venture onto the water without appropriate life vests.”

And, like Mom said, don’t play along the banks of our rivers right now. It’s dangerous.

Next, let’s talk about that sunburn thing: How many readers already have a good burn going from the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series? Too many of you, I’m sure. How do I know? Been there. Done that.

Sunburn comes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Not only is it painful, but it also can be life-threatening — and its damage may not be discovered for years. Just ask my dermatologist.
UVA and UVB refer to different wavelengths in the light spectrum. According to WebMD, UVB is more damaging to the skin, especially for skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB are responsible for photo-aging (premature aging of the skin and wrinkles) and sunburn.

The southern United States, regions close to the equator and places at high altitudes all offer the unwary visitor an opportunity to be injured by sunburn. We live here at nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, so whether you sit behind the dugout at field level or in the top row of Stocker Stadium, you will be exposed to high altitude UV rays at JUCO.

WebMD suggests that Silver sulfadiazine (1 percent cream, Thermazene) can be used for treatment of sunburn with appropriate cautions about use on the face. If your case is mild and not life-threatening, the doctor may simply suggest plenty of fluids, aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Additional topical measures such as cool compresses or high-quality moisturizing creams and lotions may be prescribed. If your case is severe enough, oral steroid therapy (cortisone-like medications) may be prescribed for several days.

The experts say steroid creams placed on the skin show minimal to no benefit. But I don’t mind when someone lovingly and gently rubs aloa vera on my sunburn.

If you are dehydrated or suffering from heat stress, IV fluids should be given, and you may be admitted to the hospital. People with very severe cases may be transferred to the hospital’s burn unit.

OK, now a few words about burning weeds this Memorial Day weekend. Don’t do it. The burn season is over for the year, so you’ll get a ticket. Besides, you run the risk of burning down the neighborhood. It’s already happened a dozen times this spring. Forget about it. Don’t play with matches.

Rather, put on a big sun hat, lather up in sunscreen (minimum of 15 SPF), then sit in the shade and drink a cool lemonade while you watch that young teenager pull, rake and gather those weeds into his dad’s pickup and take them to the dump or the compost heap at the dump.

You’ve done a good thing. You’ve helped that kid pay for gas so he can go out this weekend, and you’ve not burned down the neighborhood. Mom would be proud.

Finally, be careful on your bicycle. With more and more traffic in the valley, it’s up to YOU to watch out for yourself. And wear the helmet. It could save your life.

Now, go out there and have fun.

Gee. Thanks, Mom.


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