For many people, Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of the summer season. Typically, kids are back in school by this time, or they are enjoying their last few days of freedom. Public pools are drained and closed. The temperatures will soon start to drop. In many areas, the leaves will begin changing colors. Before you know it, fall will be in full swing.
So, it comes as no surprise that many individuals choose to celebrate this weekend with their last summer “hoorah” before fall arrives. It’s important for you, your family, and your friends to celebrate responsibly and safely during your three-day break from work and/or school.
Below are five tips to keep you safe this weekend.
1. If you are driving anywhere, be prepared and don’t drive distracted.
Regardless of whether you’re driving a few or a few hundred miles this weekend, stay alert and focused on the road. Be sure your vehicle is ready ahead of time by checking fluid levels, tire tread and pressure, signal lights, and also make sure that you have a stocked emergency kit. Your kit should include: road flares, a flashlight, jumper cables, a simple tool kit, first aid kit, coolant, windshield wiper fluid, and a jack in case you need to change your tire.
Additionally, don’t drive distracted. While it may seem important to check your phone when you hear it ding, doing so could put yourself, passengers, and others on the road in serious danger. A few other common distractions include: adjusting the radio station, talking to others in the car, being drowsy, applying makeup, or trying to read directions from a map or navigation device. It only takes a second with your eyes off the road for a disaster to happen.
Also, NEVER drink alcohol and drive! If you plan on drinking, be sure to designate a driver who will not be consuming any alcohol to drive you to and from your destination(s).
2. If you are hosting a cookout, be sure food is safely handled and prepared.
Nothing beats the smell of delicious foods being cooked on the grill. However, if this food isn’t carefully handled or prepared, your family and friends enjoying the meal could get really sick.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, you should do the following:
- Check your barbecue grill for any dirt before lighting it. Use a bristle brush to remove any foreign objects from the racks.
- Cold foods, such as potato and pasta salad, should be stored at 40°F or below. When cold foods get warm, bacteria quickly begins to grow. Cold items should NOT sit out for longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature outside is 90°F or above.
- Keep hot foods warm until you’re ready to serve your meal. These items can be kept to the side of the grill. Hot foods should NOT sit out for longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature outside is 90°F or above.
- If you plan on marinating foods for grilling, keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. NEVER marinate foods on outdoor surfaces. Dispose of any unused marinade.
- When serving food, never reuse any plates or utensils used in food preparation. This helps to prevent cross-contamination, and you don’t want to eat from a dish or with utensils that touched raw meat!
3. Be safe when swimming in any body of water.
It doesn’t matter whether you plan on swimming in your backyard pool or in a larger body of water, such as a lake, river, or ocean, you still need to keep safety your top priority.
According to the American Red Cross, you should ALWAYS supervise children when they are in or near the water. Stress the importance of never swimming alone, and be sure a lifeguard is on duty if swimming in a public location.
Also, if you are planning on spending time on a boat this holiday weekend, be sure everyone (regardless of their swimming abilities) wears a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
4. Keep safety top of mind when watching or using fireworks.
Many people will decide to use “leftover” fireworks from the Fourth of July this holiday weekend. Before using them, make sure they are legal where you live. Check out this U.S. map for laws surrounding consumer fireworks.
If fireworks are, indeed, legal where you live, follow these safety tips:
- Follow instructions on fireworks packaging.
- Don’t drink and use fireworks.
- Supervise children and don’t allow them to light any fireworks on their own.
- Don’t relight “dud” fireworks. There’s a good chance they may explode in your hand.
- Never point fireworks at a person, building, pet, or car.
The safest way, however, to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a show organized by professionals.
5. Stay hydrated!
Drink plenty of fluids to stay healthy and hydrated this weekend. While this may be the last “unofficial” weekend of the summer, the outside temperature is still fairly warm. Know your limits in the heat, and avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
Regardless of what you have planned for your holiday weekend, be sure to keep safety in mind for yourself and loved ones.