If you want a safe summer, dont drink and do anything


(Former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly now handles special sections and contributes a regular column.)

Now that we've had weather so hot we can't sleep, I think we can conclude that summer is really here. And you know what that means - bad decision-making.

Summer is the time when some of our most important decisions are accompanied by a huge need to attract attention and, not coincidentally, a tendency to drink a lot of intoxicating beverages.

In short, when it gets hot, we get stupid.

In most of us, that stupidity is lurking just below the surface, and all it takes is a couple of beers or margaritas to bring it right out in the open.

You've seen the news reports. People drowning because they get swept away by a swift current. People jumping off rocks into freezing water that is either too swift for your average swimmer or too shallow for such sensational diving to be done safely.

In fact, according to the National Injury Prevention Foundation - www.thinkfirst.org - 'as many as 1,000 spinal cord injuries occur each year due to shallow water diving.' The vast majority of injuries occur in swimming pools or natural bodies of water 6 feet deep or less.

See, I'm up on this stuff because I'm a professional news person, and I get press releases on topics like this. Here's another one, from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons - www.orthoinfo.org - headlined: 'Tumbles off trampolines land kids in examining rooms.'

Maybe you see a pattern here.

Swimming pools, lakes, rivers - they're potential killers when combined with bad decisions.

Trampolines, skateboards, pogo sticks - ditto.

Here's the cool part (and this is why I get paid to talk about this stuff, and you don't get a plug nickel to read it). It doesn't really matter what setting or device or toy or circumstance or apparatus we're talking about. If you drink a bunch of liquor (or just have a sudden surge of hormones) and decide to do something stupid, you can be severely injured or even killed in about a million different ways.

One of the tests I like to give myself is this: Have I ever seen anybody doing anything like this on 'America's Funniest Home Videos'?

If the answer is yes, then I give myself a minute, maybe even seek a second opinion (though not, of course, from my wife because she's against all of my ideas, no matter how brilliant they are).

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to point out here and now that I've done pretty much all those crazy things: jumped off rocks and bridges, rolled down hills in giant truck tubes, climbed up in trees that friends chopped down, leaped from roofs to treetops, climbed unclimbable bluffs on the Oregon coast, jumped motorcycles over things, been pulled behind cars on skateboards - well, you get the idea.

I'm not proud of this behavior. In fact, I'm quite ashamed. Most of these stunts were not accompanied by drinking (OK, some were), though the story-telling in later years almost always is.

But now that I am mature, there is now a limit to what I'll do, and it has almost everything to do with that video show on TV. I will not get on the roof of a house or barn on skis or on a motorcycle.

I will not get on a pogo stick and bounce around in the vicinity of young children and pets.

I will not drive a three-wheel or four-wheel all-terrain vehicle ever, under any circumstances.

And I most certainly will not get on a table to dance. If my hours and hours of TV watching have taught me anything, it is that nothing good ever happens when you get on a table. In fact, I think the video shows have taught us that nothing good happens when you dance under any conditions.

Here are some tips for you:

- Don't dive into shallow water.

- Don't act like an idiot on a trampoline. Those things would just as soon throw you over the fence to the neighbors' pit bull as look at you. The same is true, by the way, of the trampoline's distant cousin, the hammock.

- If you're a kid, don't play on any playground equipment you don't see adults playing on because it's probably their way of getting rid of you. (Bill Cosby articulated this theory years ago, and I've yet to see it disproved.)

- Don't do anything they do on 'America's Funniest Home Videos.'

- Don't dance. Ever.

- And don't drink and do anything.