Whether it is the degrees on the thermometer or the greater availability of parking on the streets of Boro Park, all indicators are clearly proclaiming that summer
is in full swing.
It is a time when many families — or parts of them — relocate to more rural and hopefully cooler destinations in bungalow colonies, camps or summer homes. Like most changes in routine, the shift brings with it certain increased risks and, sadly, hardly a summer goes by without some sort of unfortunate incident making this reality all the more poignant. Yet, with an added dose of caution, and a larger dose of siyatta diShmaya, many of these potential pitfalls can be greatly minimized or avoided.
While most issues relating to summer safety are relatively similar from year to year, there are some concerns with a more contemporary ring.
Acting on the highly publicized measles outbreak that has affected various segments of the Orthodox community this past year, upstate counties including Ulster, Sullivan, and Orange have enacted laws that require all children and staff at summer camps to be immunized.
Chaplain for New York State Police and community liaison Rabbi Berish Freilich said that while he was not attempting to get involved in the beliefs of any individual regarding immunization, both parents and those running camps should be forewarned that local authorities will demand compliance.
“The towns and counties are coming down very strong on camps,” said Rabbi Freilich. “Staff should be sure that they have the campers’ and staff’s vaccination records in order and ready to be reviewed. If they find irregularities it is very likely that you’ll be fined, so please be prepared.”
The perils of distracted driving are not unique to summer or to any locale, but more time in the car during summer migrations, and a shift to rural roads, make driving while using one’s mobile phone all the more hazardous.
Rabbi Yanky Mayer, director of Misaskim, who in his professional duties hears of all too many road accidents, says that the trend only gets “worse and worse.”
“It’s illegal and dangerous in the city, too, but upstate it’s ten times more dangerous to use your phone when you’re driving,” says Mayer. “Even if you’re talking and not using your hands, the fact is that your concentration is on the phone; in the country on small roads with sharp turns, a fraction of an inch can cause a head-on collision, Rachmana litzlan. This year already, we’ve had quite a few people who drove off the road because they were more busy with their phone than they were with driving.”
While the responsibility of a Jew to be mekadesh Shem Shamayim does not shift with the news cycle or the season, the temporary exodus of so many members of the Orthodox community to the Catskills area has been a source of tension with year-round locals in the past.
Members of our community who deal with local authorities say that this is even more of a reality after a year that brought increased scrutiny and unwanted attention to the community, and summertime mountain dwellers must try their utmost to be sensitive to the sensibilities of those they come in contact with.
“We stand out; we are being watched, and we are looked at differently. That is the reality,” says Rabbi Avrohom Friedman, a liaison to New York and New Jersey State Police. “It’s important for all of us to be extra courteous on the road, in stores, or wherever we happen to be and to do our best to make a kiddush Hashem.”
At the Pool
Pools in camps and bungalow colonies should be surrounded by a gate or fence that is securely locked so that young children cannot breach it and that is kept locked when no reliable supervision is present.
The pool must be watched at all times when children are swimming. This should ideally be done by a trained lifeguard, but when that is not possible, by a responsible adult.
Whoever is supervising the pool must have their full attention on swimmers, and not be engaged in conversation or using their mobile phone.
Pool areas should be equipped with an emergency phone that can directly call the local Hatzolah.
When walking at night on county roads, it is imperative to wear a reflector.
Pedestrians are difficult to spot, especially around the many sharp turns on country roads, so walkers should be sure to stay far to the side. Groups of two or more should walk single-file.
Pedestrians on roads should always walk against traffic.
Before heading north, drivers are urged to check that their cars are in good working order and fit for the trip, as well as double checking that their driver’s licenses and car registrations are up to date.
Traffic becomes increasingly heavy as Friday wears on, so travelers for Shabbos are urged to leave on Thursday. Those with no choice but to leave on Friday should not leave the city later than 12:00 p.m., and even then they should take Shabbos provisions with them in case of emergency. Hardly a week goes by without individuals or families finding themselves stuck en route as Shabbos approaches.
The wildlife that abounds in the country is attracted to any food left outdoors. Therefore, take caution to avoid leaving any loose garbage, or garbage bags, outside.
Keep garbage containers closed, and don’t let them get overly full.
Bears are especially attracted to milk. As such, do not leave babies’ bottles unattended outdoors.
In the Woods
To minimize the risk of bites from ticks and other insects, make sure to cover as much exposed skin as possible, and apply bug spray.
Those venturing on hikes should stay on marked paths, bring a charged mobile phone with them, and plan to be back at their starting point well before sunset.
Before setting out on a hike, make sure to let someone know that you are going.
Check the weather before you start, and be familiar with the trail or route you plan to take.
Wear proper footgear.
Dehydration can occur easily when temperatures are above 90 degrees or when one is engaged in rigorous sports or other activities. As such, it is important to drink hydrating fluids throughout the day and make a conscious effort to remain hydrated.
Never leave young children unsupervised in an automobile.
Minchah in Sloatsburg
As has been the case for many years, the “Minchah area” at the Sloatsburg Rest Stop on the New York State Thruway will be open on Thursday nights for tefillos between 5 p.m. and 12 a.m. State police work carefully with askanim to accommodate this service, and it is important not to organize davening outside of the designated area.
All children must be carefully supervised and not allowed to run around in the parking lot.
Drivers should proceed up the ramp to the upper level slowly so as to avoid the risk of injuring pedestrians on the upper level.