There is something truly magnificent about spending time in cottage country during the summer. Whether you’re looking to just escape the city, reconnect with nature or spend some time with friends, cottages are an iconic part of summer in Canada. Too often, however, cottage trips can be dangerous.
From dangerous interactions with wildlife to boating accidents, there are many ways that injuries happen. And especially if you get too caught up in the good times mixed in with some alcohol, sometimes we don’t always think rationally.
If you’re planning on going to a friend’s cottage anytime this summer, these must ask questions are worth raising.
How are we getting there?
Understanding the travel plan from door to door will minimize risk. If you’re travelling by car, it’s important to know who is driving, for how long and how experienced they are as a driver. It’s also important to know the state the car is in, what routes and backup ones to take, and any emergency numbers in case of an accident or being roadside due to car troubles.
Will we be boating?
If the cottage is on an island, and you’re reaching it by boat, you need to know if the boat is equipped with proper safety gear. And how many people the boat is supposed to hold. Does the boat driver have a license? How well does the driver know the waterways in the area? Are there scholls or rocks in the area?
Are there wild animals in the area?
Some cottages see limited wildlife while others share the land with coyotes, bears and moose. It’s important to ask what wildlife are in the area ahead of your arrival and know what to do if someone is attacked. Does the cottage have a first aid kit, for example? Has the cottage owner encountered wildlife in the past?
How deep is the water?
Is the water safe for diving? How deep is it? Is the water clean enough for us to swim in? Have any safety warnings been issued about swimming? Is there a lot of boat traffic going by?
It’s not just water to know about. It’s worth asking more about the weather the weekend you plan to stay. Are there any storm warnings or inclement weather predictions? Can the cottage withstand the predicted weather?
What do we do if it goes wrong?
Accidents happen and having a contingency plan can mean life or death. This is especially necessary if you plan to have a party or drink while at the cottage. Do you have emergency contact numbers? Do you have a way of returning to the mainland if you’re on an island? Does someone know CPR and is there a trained lifeguard present? Where is the nearest hospital? What routes to take to get there? Are there neighbours around if you need help?
These questions can suddenly become very important in a life-threatening scenario - so it’s important to know the answer.
If you are able to ask and get a sufficient answer to these 5 questions, the cottage is likely safe to visit. Enjoy your cottage weekend and remember to stay safe!