Summit Daily letters: Outdoor adventure requires a sense of safety |

Summit Daily letters: Outdoor adventure requires a sense of safety

Outdoor adventure requires a sense of safety

I was saddened by the article about the death of the acclaimed mountain climber, Charlotte Fox, and especially surprised that it was likely the result from falling on her stairs inside her own home. In the same issue, there was a report that a Durango man fell off a mountain while taking a photo on a hiking trail. I’m glad to see SDN report on these tragedies, as well as the dangers of moose and bear encounters. There are many things in our high country environment that increase our vulnerability to getting injured. For example, extreme weather (cold temperature, hailstorms, lightning), terrain (rock features, water features, trail condition, etc.) and animals! The exposure is present when we interact with these elements, hazards or wildlife. No one expects to get struck by lightning, step off of a cliff, encounter an angry moose, fall down the stairs or off of a paddleboard into frigid water. But stuff happens! But what can seem like really bad luck often is often predictable in hindsight. One of the most important actions that we can take to prevent an awful outcome is to recognize the exposures that are present in our activities and identify the specific actions we need to take to control those exposures. More importantly, talk about it with your hiking, biking, swimming or skiing buddy. Anyone that rents a boat at the marina or goes on a commercial rafting trip is required to take part in a safety briefing before they embark. Why not do the same thing with our friends and family before we take off on a hike or bike ride? One of the most important parts of that conversation should be to anticipate how exposure may change in the midst of doing this activity and discuss what you will do if this were to happen. For example, if the boat breaks down in the middle of the lake, if your partner gets stuck in a tree well when skiing, if the storm surprises us and there is lightening … so many serious injuries and deaths could’ve been prevented with the simple step of a pre-activity safety briefing. Charlotte Fox admitted that she was darn lucky that she didn’t die along with her guide Scott Fisher, on that 1996 Mt. Everest expedition. In that instance, they did do a safety briefing before they took off for the Summit that day. They anticipated changes in exposure and discussed how they would react including that if they weren’t at a specific location, below the summit by a specific time, that they would turn around. Tragically, they ignored their own good advice and many lives were lost! Charlotte Fox’s family and friends will probably never know what happened to trigger her fall in her home. But one thing is certain: People trip and fall when using stairs. Anticipate the exposure and control it by using hand rails, looking and avoiding obstacles like toys or sleeping cats on the steps, and wearing decent footwear. Look around your campsite, home, yard and anticipate the ways you and your family could get hurt and talk about ways to control those exposures and the “what ifs.”

Garnett Payne


Keep our air smoke and vape free

Allowing marijuana smoking or vaping any public place or workplace is the wrong direction for Colorado. No one should be forced to breathe smoke, whether it is from tobacco, marijuana or vaping in public places or workplaces.

If signed into law by Gov. Hickenlooper, House Bill 1258 would allow marijuana shops to establish “tasting” rooms for people to consume marijuana on-site using electronic smoking devices. Electronic smoking devices emit harmful particulates and chemicals that could travel into neighboring businesses or residences, affect workers who perform maintenance or deliver services, and expose employees or volunteers. A recent study indicates that significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils. An exploding electronic smoking device killed a Florida man recently. Amendment 64 says that marijuana cannot be consumed openly or in public places or in a manner that endangers others.

HB 1258 could be difficult to enforce. Some electronic smoking devices can contain tobacco, marijuana and other drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control. To ensure consistency and aid enforcement, smoke-free laws should apply to tobacco and marijuana.

HB 1258 is a step backwards. More than 25 communities in Colorado like Frisco, Dillon and Breckenridge have strengthened their local laws restricting smoking and vaping in public places and workplaces. Many include outdoor areas like parks, playgrounds, amphitheaters, trails and open space.

The Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution hopes Gov. Hickenlooper will veto House Bill 1258 and keep our smoke-free laws strong.

Pete Bialick


President, the Colorado Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP)

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