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Focus on Safety during Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is right around the corner, the first long holiday weekend of the summer. For many it may mean taking to the highway, opening up the backyard pool, or gathering friends together for a cookout. The American Red Cross would like everyone to enjoy a safe summer holiday, and offers some tips to help you and your loved ones have a great weekend.

If travel is in your plans, drive safely

With more people on the roads over the holiday weekend, it’s more important than ever to drive safely —which means being well rested and alert, using your seat belts, observing speed limits and following the rules of the road. If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink.

Other tips for a safe trip include:

  • Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank get too low. If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Make frequent stops.
  • Clean your vehicle’s lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
  • Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights.
  • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.
  • 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.
  • 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 where you are traveling, especially if they are disasters you have never experienced. Find out how you would get information in the event of a disaster (local radio systems, emergency alert systems).

If you are traveling with your pet, has special advice to make your trip more enjoyable.

Water safety is important

Learning to swim is one of the best steps someone can take to be safe around water. Almost two million people of all ages learn to swim each year through Red Cross programs.

For pool owners, knowing what equipment to have on hand and what to do in an emergency is key to safety. Home Pool Essentials: Maintenance and Safety is an online course developed by the Red Cross and the National Swimming Pool Foundation to teach pool and hot tub owners how to create a safer environment.

Other water safety tips include:

  • Closely supervise children whenever they are near any body of water. 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.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Weak or inexperienced swimmers should wear U. S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets anytime they're around water.
  • Know how to respond to an emergency (including lifesaving CPR skills), how to tell if a swimmer is in distress or is drowning, and how and when to call for emergency help.
  • If you have a pool or hot tub, keep lifesaving gear handy. Always have on hand a ring buoy, life jackets, rope, pole or other object that can be used to help a person in trouble. Be sure to have a first aid kit, cordless phone and emergency contact information by the pool.

Grill up those goodies safely

Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. And keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. That means you should not be grilling in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.

While you’re mastering the art of the perfectly-cooked steak, make sure everyone else, including the pets, stays away from the grill. Finally, keep yourself safe by using the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.

Contact your local Red Cross chapter and take the first step toward summer safety – learn how to swim, and get the facts about water safety, home pool safety, first aid and CPR classes. For more information about what to do to have a safe summer, visit