by Shannon Scruggs – PSG Director of HSE
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.
According to the National Safety Council, nearly 400 deaths result from motor vehicle collisions over Labor Day Weekend. If you’re planning a weekend excursion make sure you’re well rested, plan for frequent rest stops, and divide driving duties if possible.
Don’t forget to pack a vehicle emergency kit that contains items like a flashlight, jumper cables, a tool kit, tire gauge and flares.
Fireworks are fun, flashy and festive, but many of us overlook the injury they 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.
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. Keep in mind that operating a motor vehicle after just a drink or two is dangerous.
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.
Conquering outdoor chores
Lots of us look forward to relaxing on Labor Day weekend, but if you’re tackling outdoor chores instead, please 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.
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 partygoers have been served.
Also protect against COVID-19
In addition to avoiding food-borne illness, follow current CDC recommendations for cleaning surfaces and navigating social interactions to lessen the chances of coronavirus spread.
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 these safety tips in mind may help prevent one.
Have a Happy and Safe Labor Day!
Remember: Hazard Awareness + Hazard Mitigation + Focus = Zero Injuries