Your Voice: Tips on staying safe this Labor Day weekend

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From the Red Cross

Many people view Labor Day as the end of summer and their last chance to travel, hit the beach and fire up the grill. The American Red Cross offers safety tips to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
"While many people will spend the Labor Day weekend traveling and spending time with family and friends, no one should take a vacation from safety," says Lloyd Ziel, Red Cross Communications and Marketing Officer for New Hampshire and Vermont. "It's still important that people work to remain vigilant on the road, at the beach and at cookouts."
People should follow these safety tips:
Tips for Safe Travel
· Buckle up, slow down, and don't drive impaired.
· Be well rested and alert.
· Use caution in work zones.
· Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
· Observe speed limits - driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.
· Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you're too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
· Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.
· Don't follow another vehicle too closely.
· If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who won't drink.
· Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
· Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
· Don't overdrive your headlights.
· If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.
Prepare for the Unexpected
· Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.
· Pack high protein snacks, water, First Aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications and important documents or information you may need.
· Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
· Find out what disasters may occur in the place where you are traveling, especially if they are disasters you have never experienced before. Find out how you would get information in the event of a disaster (local radio systems, emergency alert systems).
· Pay attention to the weather forecast for your destination. Travel and weather web sites can help you avoid storms and other regional challenges that could impact your safety.
· Don't let your vehicle's gas tank get too low.
· If you are taking your pet with you, there are special things you should know to make your trip more enjoyable.
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.
· Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
· Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child's life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
· Maintain constant supervision.
· If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
· Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
· If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
· Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
· Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
· Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
· Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you're not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
Tips for Safe Grilling.
· Keep children and pets away from the grill.
· Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
· Never grill indoors - not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area
· Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use, and make sure everyone, including pets, stay away from the grill
· Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire. Hot grease or ashes could spill from the grill onto the wooden deck or into dry leaves or grass
· Keep the chef safe by using long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill
· Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using a grill
· Be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if necessary
· Keep a fireproof pan under the grill to catch any falling ash or grease
· Trim excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups
· Hand washing is paramount. Wash your hands in hot soapy water before preparing food, after each time you touch raw meat, and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets, or stopping to do something with children

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