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Posted: 12/29/2005 9:52:13 PM EDT
I just have to wonder how many people will read this and think "Oh my God! Where do I sign up for my Matrix Pod?"



www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10361930j

Summer holidays fraught with danger

30.12.05 1.00pm
By Kevin Norquay

WARNING: things that look like fun will try to hurt or kill you this summer.

For a start, get rid of the cheery Christmas tree that is going brown in the corner of your lounge - it's out to get you.

Your tree is drying up by being left in the sun, Northland Fire Safety Officer Craig Bain says.

Leaving it by the window could be disastrous, as it could heat up and burst into flames.

Eating, drinking, driving, swimming, even with the help of floating devices, having sex and going to school can also be dicey, if not hazardous.

And, for the sake of your health, try to avoid being a foreigner.

It is best to stay away from water. Beaches are dangerous. So are rivers. Never trust a lake.

If you must go somewhere watery be careful. Try not to use a road; 14 people have been killed on roads so far in the holiday period.

Mind you, Water Safety New Zealand has predicted 21 people will drown in January, so roads might be a safer option.

Avoiding roads can also prove fatal -- a motorbike rider died after crashing on a beach in the Far North yesterday.

Once you eventually reach water, swim between the flags and don't go out too deep. Never dive in without checking the water first.

If your English is poor head for Piha, on Auckland's west coast where beach safety staff fluent in foreign languages are lurking.

Overseas visitors can also expect to be looked after by Curly Evans and his surf lifesavers at Foxton , Otaki, Waiterere and Himatangi .

Asians were often caught out by New Zealand conditions, Mr Evans said.

"They are not used to the surf, as in waves breaking, because there's not a lot of surf in Japan," he said.

If you like your kids, best not let them use that new boogie board you gave them for Christmas -- it's a potential killer.

Parents need to give their children the proper equipment, Piha surf life-saving club captain Julian Barton said.

If they have a boogie board, they must also have fins to help them propel, and a wrist strap.

"We get a lot of kids who've just unwrapped their boogie boards under the Christmas tree, and then so young junior is in the surf -- they get blown away with the wind and tide, sucked out to sea with no propulsion -- you're like a bobbing cork."

Lying back on your beach towel with a nice cool beer is not the answer -- do that and you'll have sunburn and the cops all over you like a rash.

Police have a zero-tolerance approach to anyone planning to flout booze bans at beaches and resorts over the New Year.

If you get the urge to eat at any point during the holidays, you'd better wash up, you'd better keep clean, you'd better keep the barbecue hot to cook meat properly.

Fail to do so and you could be one of the 119,000 New Zealanders that catches a foodborne disease each year.

Be especially wary of the barbecue, as it can either kill slowly with germs or in more exciting fashion, with a spectacular gas explosion.

Summer, with its long hot days, is the best time to pick up a foodborne disease, the Food Safety Authority (FSA) said.

Raw or undercooked meat can even cross-contaminate seemingly innocuous food, such as salads.

Wash your hands before and while preparing food, and after going to the toilet, changing nappies, touching pets or farm animals, or gardening.

There is no mention of washing your hands after sex, but it would be best for you avoid sex, anyway.

Apart from the danger of conceiving a child who could eventually want a real Christmas tree or be washed out to sea on their boogie board, there are other risks.

Family Planning has warned sexually active women on holiday to take birth control with them.

Use condoms as protection from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), Family Planning executive director Dr Gill Greer warned.

"The only safe sex is no sex."

Nor is cutting your holiday short and rushing back to the safety of school much use, according to the Cancer Society.

A study of shade in primary schools has revealed there often was not enough to avoid the burning rays of the sun, SunSmart spokeswoman Wendy Billingsley said.

Your worries are not over, even if you decide it is too dangerous to go out, and opt for watching television, videos, or tinkering on the internet.

Long periods of inactivity can cause you to develop deep vein thrombosis, so exercise your legs and feet regularly.

Happy New Year.
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