Labor Day is synonymous with the end of summer, and the long holiday weekend is upon us. Labor Day is typically packed with celebratory events like backyard barbecues, final excursions to the lake, picnics at the park, and beach parties. But even festive events like these present hazards you should be aware of.
Whether you’re planning a final summer outing or staying home to wrap up summer chores, we want you and your family to enjoy a safe close to the season. To help you do so, we’ve gathered these helpful Labor Day weekend safety tips.
1. Road-trip, anyone?
If you’re planning a weekend excursion make sure you’re well rested, plan for frequent rest stops, and divide driving duties if possible. You should also have your car checked by a registered mechanic to avoid a break down on the road. Don’t forget to pack a vehicle emergency kit that contains items like a flashlight, jumper cables, a tool kit, tire gauge and flares.
Tips for Safe Travel
- Carry an emergency supply kit in your trunk.
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive.
- Buckle up and observe speed limits.
- Don’t drink and drive.
2. Festive Fireworks
They are fun, flashy and festive, but many of us overlook the injury fireworks can cause. The National Safety Council reports that children 10 to 14 years of age are at three times the risk of being injured by fireworks than the population as a whole. Even sparklers can inflict serious injury. If you choose to use fireworks be sure you only light one at a time, maintain the recommended distance from spectators, and never allow any horseplay while fireworks are being set up or ignited. If a firework malfunctions, don’t re-light it. Above all, never allow young children handle fireworks and never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
3. Alcohol in Moderation
Alcohol and parties often go hand in hand, but beware that drinking impacts your decision making, coordination, reaction time and vision which makes you vulnerable to a number of hazards. If you plan on consuming alcohol, setting a limit on how much you will consume. And the time to set your limit is before you arrive at the neighborhood cookout. Once you set an alcohol limit, stick to it. Drink one glass of water in between alcoholic drinks to help keep hydrated and pace your alcohol consumption. If you drink more than you planned, ask for help getting home. And keep in mind that operating a motor vehicle after just a drink or two is dangerous.
4. Boating Safety
Boating is a quintessential Labor Day event. Make sure you keep it safe by ensuring the boat is in good mechanical condition, and carries all safety equipment including personal flotation devices, an emergency kit and a first aid kit. Keep away from restricted areas, be sure that you’re familiar with the rules of the water, and tell someone on land where you’re heading and what time you expect to return. For more boating safety tips, read “7 Tips for Avoiding Danger on a Boat.”
Tips for Safe Swimming
- Check weather and water conditions beforehand and throughout the day.
- Always swim with a buddy in a designated swimming area supervised by a lifeguard.
- Provide constant supervision to children in or near the water and always stay within arm’s reach of young children and inexperienced swimmers while they are in the water.
- Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
5. Conquering Outdoor Chores
Lots of us look forward to relaxing on Labor Day weekend, but if you’re tackling outdoor chores instead, we hope you’ll keep these safety tips in mind. Before you use any power tool make sure the cord isn’t frayed, that it is free of cuts and appears to be in good condition. If you need an extension cord be sure it is designed for outdoor use. Additionally, be sure that the extension cord’s amperage can handle the demand of the power tool you’re using. Cleaning gutters, trimming trees and painting are just a few common outdoor chores that require a ladder, and ladders are notoriously dangerous. Only use a ladder when there’s someone else at home and if you’re using a metal ladder be careful that it does not come into contact with an electrical source.
6. Prevent Food-borne Illnesses
What’s a Labor Day holiday without lots of food? Picnics, barbeques, and neighborhood pot-lucks are plentiful and that means so is the chance of food-borne illness. To minimize the chance of cross-contamination, wash your hands before and after you touch raw meat. Dry your hands on paper towels instead of cloth towels, and discard immediately. Refrigerate meat that’s waiting to hit the grill. Never leave food that requires refrigeration (think potato salad, coleslaw or chicken salad) out in the sun. Instead, set the item the bowl is in on top of a pan filled with ice, and serve from a shaded area. Return the item to the refrigerator as soon as party-goers have been served.
Tips for Safe Grilling
- Keep the grill away from the house, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
7. Hydration and sun protection
Soda and juice might be a bit tastier, but you should hydrate your body with water instead. If you’re having a party, set out a few tubs full of bottled water and encourage your guests to drink small amounts often. Remember the golden rule: If your urine is yellow, you’re not drinking enough water.
It’s the end of summer, but in many parts of the country the sun is still raging. Apply sunscreen before you head out in the sun and reapply as necessary. Remember that the elderly and the young have especially sensitive skin and don’t forget that some medications can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Whether you’re splashing in a pool, enjoying the ultimate picnic or knocking out those household chores, we want you to stay safe this Labor Day weekend. Remember: An accident is never planned. But keeping out safety tips in mind may help prevent one.
The American Red Cross First Aid App for smart phones and tablets provides users with expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores and at redcross.org/mobileapps.
The Team at TOCA wish you and your family health and happiness as we celebrate this Labor Day.
To learn more about TOCA, our Physician Team, or to schedule an appointment call our dedicated TOCA Team at: 602-277-6211!
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