Playing it safe in the summer of 2021

Now is the time to review the rules, which really shouldn’t be considered optional.

Welcome to the dog days of summer, when we all, it seems, need some firm commands and tips on how better to socialize with each other.

In the past year and eight months, we’ve mostly complied, here on Vashon, with a series of rules, variously called “directives,” “mandates,” “orders,” and now, “strong recommendations.”

We are wordsmiths here at the newspaper, and in all honesty, we don’t love the word “recommend.” It’s soft and sends a nod that it is okay to comply or not.

“Recommend” is what the waiter does, when she suggests you should order something that the kitchen has a lot of that night. That’s what your friend does when he tells you which ferry he thinks you should catch. That’s what you say when you see a movie you like and tell your friends they should go see it too.

It’s not the word a mom uses when she tells her kids not to play in traffic.

But “recommend” is the word we have now from state and county public health officers when it comes to wearing masks indoors in public locations.

It is possible if things continue to head south with the Delta variant, we’ll get a less wimpy type of instruction soon, something more along the lines of an “order.”

But here on Vashon, do we really need that? With the latest news from Vashon’s Medical Reserve Corps — that almost half of Vashon’s recent COVID cases have occurred in fully vaccinated people — it seems like a no-brainer to just accept the fact that for now, we all need to wear masks when we are inside public places.

With the current rise in cases, how can we consider it a choice as to whether we will possibly infect unvaccinated others with a sometimes deadly disease?

Just as we obey other safety and public health rules without thinking, we simply need to do this too. For now. Until things get better. Which we know they can — because, ever so briefly, they did earlier this summer, and wasn’t that nice?

If you are eligible for vaccination and have not gotten your shots, now is the time. Today.

And speaking of playing it safe, let’s talk about fire.

After 51 days of no rain in the Seattle area, a few drops finally fell in the evening on Aug. 5. In the days following, clouds blew in and out, and everything felt cooler if not actually wet.

And that too, was fun while it lasted — temperatures are forecast to climb back into the 90s this week, with nary a cloud in sight.

With our grasses and fields like straw and overgrown brush also tinder-dry, we need to protect our island home by complying with the current burn ban and exercising extreme caution.

We’re lucky that Vashon is somewhat more protected than many other nearby places by its maritime climate. Because it is surrounded by water, Vashon is better able to regenerate higher humidity overnight, which somewhat lessens our danger.

But “somewhat” isn’t good enough in the summer of 2021.

So now is the time to review the rules, which really shouldn’t be considered optional either.

Keep a charged hose or fire extinguisher nearby when you use your barbeque grill, and clean the darn thing after every use. Make sure your fire extinguishers and alarms are operational. Don’t even think about having a recreational fire. Don’t even think about shooting off those leftover fireworks. Don’t park your just-driven car on dry grass. Pack a go-bag, just in case, and practice fire drills with your family. Look for two different walking/driving routes out of your neighborhood, just in case you need to evacuate.

Follow more tips for keeping your home safe from wildfires at

And if you see smoke, call 9-1-1, without hesitation.

Don’t think of these things as “recommendations.” These are the rules of the road, in the summer of 2021.