Labor Day weekend is synonymous with the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Many of us use the “last” weekend of summer to go to a pool, the beach or the great outdoors for a final summertime adventure. Even though the summer season may be coming to an end, you and your family deserve to celebrate safely this holiday weekend.
No matter what your plans are, keep your weekend intact by remembering the basics this upcoming holiday weekend.
Going out of town or visiting a new area? Before you head out of the house, think defense because other drivers will be playing offense. Labor Day weekend often has a spike in traffic fatalities. The National Safety Council reports that nearly 400 deaths are caused by motor collisions during Labor Day weekend. Because it is a holiday weekend, alcohol is a major contributor to motor accidents.
It may seem obvious, but as you’re in a hurry to head out the door, be sure to:
• Be well-rested and alert; give your full attention to the road.
• Double-check that everyone is wearing their seat belts.
• If you’re using GPS, turn on voice direction.
• Observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road.
• Don’t drink and drive—have a designated driver if consuming alcohol is part of your plans.
Over Labor Day weekend, nearly everyone is heading toward fun on the water. From swimming, jet skiing or just hanging out on the shore, the water is the perfect place to say farewell to summer. With increased traffic on our lakes and rivers during Labor Day weekend, it’s more important than ever to take the necessary precautions to prevent boating and swimming accidents. Fortunately, being prepared can protect you and your family while on the water.
• Whether you are on a boat, in the lake or a pool, everyone should wear life jackets that fit correctly and are securely fastened. In Texas, boaters are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board for every person on their boat, so everyone on board should always be wearing their life jacket – including infants.
• To make sure that your life jacket fits, put on the life jacket and fasten the straps. Then, hold your arms straight up over your head and ask a friend to grasp the top of the arm openings and gently pull up. The lifejacket shouldn’t be able to slip over your head and should fit snugly.
• And don’t forget your furry friends! Life jackets are not required for pets, but If you’re taking your pets out on the water, give them a little extra protection from paddling fun with a life jacket of their own.
• There should also be a designated “water watcher” to pay attention to children who are swimming in the water. Drowning can be silent and quick and can happen in very shallow water, so it’s vital that there is an adult who is watching the water with their full attention.
Especially during a holiday weekend, please swim only in designated areas. Swimming in open water puts you in the path of ski boats and jet skis that are not looking for bobbing heads in the water.
• Never swim alone—swimming with a friend is always more fun and keeps you both safe.
• While it’s legal to have open containers of alcohol on BRA reservoirs, a designated boat driver is a must. Having a nondrinker at the helm helps ensure that everyone gets to go home at the end of the day without a hefty fine for boating while intoxicated. And, remember, just as young children can’t drive your car home at the end of the day, they should not be your designated driver on the water.
• Always pay attention to your surroundings and keep a safe distance from others, even when you are on a boat. This means no beaching or rafting your boat next to someone else and keeping your distance at the fuel stations.
Even though summer is coming to an end, Texas is going to stay hot for a while longer. Keep the holiday weekend cool by being prepared for the heat.
• Pack plenty of water if you plan on being outdoors. Avoid drinks with high sugar levels and alcohol.
• Apply sunscreen liberally before going outside; reapply after swimming or sweating.
• Keep your grill at least two feet away from flammable objects, like branches, decks and outdoor equipment.
• If you plan on being outdoors for a long period of time, have a designated air-conditioned or shaded area where you can cool off.
Because public use areas and beaches are open in Texas, many people will be visiting these spots during the holiday weekend – and the Covid-19 virus is still active. Maintaining at least 6 feet of separation from others outside your house could keep both groups from getting sick. If it’s not possible to maintain this distance, don’t forget a face covering and remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
Finally – and most importantly, if you or any family members feel sick, please stay at home. Rest, fight off whatever is plaguing you, and live to play another day. The water will still be here when you’re feeling a bit better. For more information about Texas’ rules and regulations regarding COVID-19, click here.
Even though extra safety precautions are needed for this Labor Day weekend, it’s still a time to remember and celebrate with those who are most important to you. Be safe, know the risks and have fun!