U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (May 22, 2019) — Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start of summer – will be here soon, signaling the time for outdoor summer fun. The American Red Cross wants everyone to enjoy the season and offers safety tips you can follow all summer long.
We want the community to stay safe as they spend time with family and friends over the long holiday weekend,” said John Duck, executive director for Red Cross USVI. “As you head out to the beach, a crowded event or decide to grill at home, keep in mind these important safety steps so you are prepared and know what to do in case of an emergency.”
Before going in, on or around the water, every family member should become “water smart.” This starts with learning to be safe, making good choices, and learning to swim to at least achieve the skills of water competency. Everyone should be able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance and then get out of the water safely. A variety of water safety courses and resources are available at redcross.org/watersafety.
- Prevent unsupervised access to water. Fence pools and spas with adequate barriers, keep a constant eye for any water dangers such as portable splash pools/slides, buckets, and bathtubs.
- Adults- actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and new swimmers. Kids-follow the rules.
- Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on a boat and if in a situation beyond someone’s skill level.
- Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair – everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. Designate a ‘Water Watcher’ to keep a close eye and constant attention on children and weaker swimmers in and around the water until the next Water Watcher takes over.
- Download the Red Cross Swim App for kid-friendly games and activities and water safety information for parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. Download the app for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.
A recent Red Cross survey showed three in five adults have walked away from a grill while cooking, one of the leading causes of grilling fires which cause more than 9,000 home fires on average each year. To avoid this, the Red Cross offers these grilling safety tips:
- Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
- Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
- Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
- Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
- Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.
BE SAFE IN A CROWD
If summer plans include places where crowds may gather, such as at an amusement park or concert, people can expect to wait in lines and possibly face extra security measures, along with getting separated from their group. The Red Cross has safety steps to follow:
- Have a few different methods to communicate – cell phone, tablet, calling card for a landline phone. Stay with the group – don’t go off alone. All adults should have a cell phone and exchange numbers with the others in the group. Plan where to meet should someone become separated.
- Find out what is allowed when it comes to items such as coolers, backpacks, etc. to avoid having to throw them away.
- Dress appropriately and in layers to be ready for any change in the weather. Stay hydrated. Apply sunscreen regularly.
- Watch the weather and seek shelter if any severe weather warnings are issued. Know where the exits and shelters are.
- Be on the lookout for suspicious activity and don’t be afraid to report suspicious people or packages.
Accidents and Emergencies Happen
The Red Cross has several resources to help people learn how to treat bee stings, burns and heat emergencies including training courses (redcross.org/takeaclass), a free First Aid App and a First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/USVI or visit us on Facebook at @RedCrossUSVI.