Labor Day is a time when many enjoy a long weekend as the summer comes to a close and school comes back in session. With the heat summer still bearing down in the South, outdoor activities such as a weekend trip to the beach, grilling out, or swimming and boating at the lake have become favorite Labor Day weekend pastimes. But seemingly care-free events like these present hazards for which you and your kids should be aware of.
According to the National Safety Council, Labor Day weekend is known as one of the busiest and most dangerous weekends of the year, with nearly 400 deaths resulting from motor vehicle collisions. “When you’re traveling with family and children, it’s always critical to take every safety precaution that you can,” says Dr. Andrew Bozeman, Pediatric Surgeon at Fairview Park Hospital. Here are a few tips that he encourages parents to keep in mind for safe travels:
- Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to arrive.
- Make sure that all passengers are buckled up and that the driver observes speed limits.
- Limit the number of distractions for the driver, including the hands-free law in Georgia.
- Ensure children are restrained appropriately in safety seats designed specifically for their weight and size.
- Always keep an emergency supply kit in your car.
Bozeman also explains how grilling can quickly become hazardous when the proper safety measures are not met. “Children under the age of five account for one-third of the thermal grill burns that are seen in hospitals nationwide.” To ensure the safety of those around you while grilling, be sure to follow the appropriate precautions:
- Keep children at least three feet away from the grilling area at all times.
- Keep your grill away from the house, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
- Exercise caution when opening a hot grill, as the rapid exposure of surrounding air to the hot coals may ignite a flash fire and create a skin or inhalational burn injury.
- Ensure that children and adults stay away from hot or cooling charcoal and wood ashes.
Make sure that footwear is worn near fires to protect your feet from hot ash. Lastly, it’s important to always practice safety around any body of water, especially when children are near. “Swimming and boating safety tips may seem common, but are very important to remember when you’re enjoying your Labor Day holiday,” says Bozeman. Always be certain that:
- Children are wearing a life jacket while on a boat and around open bodies of water.
- Life jackets are fitted appropriately—snug enough and not too large for a child.
- Children understand that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. The water can become uneven, have river currents, or even an undertow.
- You apply sunscreen when your child is exposed to the sun for an extended period of time, even if it is overcast.
Whether your plans for Labor Day are restful relaxation by the pool or finishing up household chores, Fairview Park Hospital wants you to enjoy a safe holiday weekend. “Accidents are never planned,” says Bozeman. “But keeping these safety tips in mind during your outdoor activities may help to prevent one.”