Ah, mid-July. Time to participate in one of the great pleasures of summer in Canada: Talking about how it isn’t winter. Also, time to head to the cottage or campsite for a little relaxation. To help make the most of your time, I present the HineSight Guide to Avoiding Outdoor Dangers.

1. Every summer, a terrible scourge sweeps vacation country, threatening to destroy the well-being of all it comes near. I refer to the dreaded OPC or, as it’s commonly called Other People’s Children. When our own children run around the campsite, blasting squirt guns and screaming like banshees, they’re charming, high spirited imps. When other people’s children do this, they are ill-behaved future felons whose parents likely check out 12 grocery items in lines clearly marked “eight.” However, it is wrong to wish OPC did not exist. We need them to entertain our own kids while we have a nap.

2. This peril of the northlands comes by many names. It may be Country Sweets, Pine Tree Pies or Little Shop of Lard. Whatever it’s called, step in the door and you can practically hear your arteries slamming shut. There’s a reason cottage country is full of bakeries.

It’s an evil plot by aliens intent on destroying humankind by seducing us into consuming fatty treats, thus negating the health benefits of hiking, canoeing or swimming. OK, maybe this sounds a little far fetched, but every morning when I hit that third-cherry-cheese-Danish-of-the-day sugar high, I’m convinced it’s true. Bottom line: Stay out of the bakeshops. Then I won’t have to wait in line.

3. Alcohol. Sure we’ve been warned, but many adults still go on vacation and end up foolishly mixing their alcohol. With board games. After one too many beers, it’s not uncommon to believe you can buy Park Place with a sub-prime mortgage or that “gzerniq” is an excellent Scrabble word.

Alcohol mixed with card games is also a no-go. Recently, having enjoyed two gin and tonics, I was convinced I could win a Euchre hand with a fist full of 10s.

My partner, Liz, says she wouldn’t have minded, except that we were playing Hearts at the time.

The lesson is clear: If you drink, don’t deal.

Follow these suggestions and you’ll find life in the wild a little less, well, wild. Next week, camping tips: The top 10 plants you should never use as toilet paper.

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