Tips for a Safe Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is just around the corner. While you may be excited about having an extra day off work to celebrate the unofficial start of the summer season, remember to take a few moments to fully appreciate the true meaning of this holiday.

Beginning in 1971, Memorial Day was moved from its traditional May 30 observance to the last Monday in May. However, it was first observed in the years following the American Civil War. At that time, it was known as “Decoration Day,” and it was a day to honor soldiers who were killed during the war. As time went on, the day began to honor fallen military men and women who served in WWI and WWII. Today, Americans observe the day by visiting cemeteries where their military family members and friends were laid to rest.

On a less solemn note, Memorial Day weekend is also known as a time when many people host cookouts, go on vacation, and open their pool for the summer. You may be eager to get your weekend festivities started, but before you do, it’s important to keep safety in mind by following these tips.

Cookout and picnic safety

If you are planning on hosting a cookout, make sure a responsible adult is in charge of the grill. NEVER leave a grill unattended, and be sure that children are kept away from the hot surface. Before cooking on the grill, make sure it’s clean and free of any leftover grease from the last time it was used. Grease deposits could ignite very quickly once you begin using the grill. Also, be sure that you have a plan in place in case a flare-up occurs while cooking. It’s a wise idea to have a functional fire extinguisher nearby.

If your intentions this weekend are to go on a picnic, make sure you take precautions when it comes to the food(s) you’re bringing. Some dishes should be kept away from a picnic, such as foods that are difficult to travel with, and foods that aren’t easy to keep covered. Keep cold foods on ice, and hot foods should be warmed to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s time to eat. If you have open dishes with food in them at your picnic, these will need to be covered when not in use to prevent bugs from getting inside.

Travel safety

If you’re planning on taking a road trip, be sure your car is ready for the drive. Check your tire pressure, headlights, windshield wipers, and fluid levels before leaving. Also, be sure to have an emergency kit in the vehicle in case you should need it. According to, your kit should include: first aid items, fire extinguisher, jumper cables, flashlight, road flares, drinking water, and non-perishable snacks.

If you’re planning on flying to your destination, pack your bags ahead of time. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your suitcase ready. Be sure to keep in mind what items you can and cannot have on the flight with you, as well as what items will need to be removed from your body when you go through security.

Regardless of how you’re getting where you’re going, be sure to let another family member or trusted friend know your travel plans. Give them a copy of your itinerary so others will know where to find you. Also, put your home’s lights on timers so that it looks like someone is home. This is a great way to deter potential burglars. If you plan on being gone for a few days or more, it’s also a smart idea to have the post office hold your mail until you get back.

Pool safety

With it being the start of summer, you may be eager to jump into the pool if you have one. However, before doing so, be sure that the pool has been properly cleaned and is ready for use. Also, you need to be mindful of these additional tips from the American Red Cross:

  • ALWAYS supervise children when they are in or near the pool. Never leave them unattended for any amount of time.
  • Have rules in place and do not allow anyone to break them (e.g. no diving and no running around the pool).
  • Be sure that all family members in your home know how to respond to water emergencies.
  • When your pool is not in use, keep it covered and remove ladders or stairs used to gain access to the water.
  • Have a barrier installed around your pool to prevent children or animals from accidentally falling in the water.

With these tips in mind, we hope that you have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.