LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and everyone is eager to go out and have as much fun as possible.
In Kentucky, restaurants can open with limited indoor capacity.
Groups of 10 or less can get together as long as they maintain physical distancing. Wearing a face covering is strongly recommended.
However, small oversights can turn into agonizing moments.
With the response to the coronavirus pandemic, Memorial Day will be the first holiday where people may travel and gather together.
Here are some tips to stay safe.
Memorial Day Safety Tip #1 – Food Safety
The weather around this time of year is perfect for a picnic or outdoor grilling. To avoid the risk of food poisoning, we recommend:
- That perishable foods be refrigerated within 2 hours of purchase, if the temperature outside is 90°F or higher, food should be chilled within 1 hour.
- While grilling or out on a picnic keep uncooked foods in a cooler.
- To avoid cross contamination, keep meats separate from other perishables.
- Cover food to avoid insects from depositing germs.
Memorial Day Safety Tip #2 – Water Safety
National Safe Boating Week coincides with Memorial Day Weekend as a lot of people are expected to hit the waterways. Even if you do not plan to be on a boat, there are some standard Memorial Day Safety Tips to keep in mind, in order to avoid a tragic accident:
- Wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket that fits properly whenever you are on a boat.
- Avoid alcohol when swimming, boating or tubing.
- Designate an adult watcher/lifeguard to keep an eye on children in pools, at the beach, rivers or even hot tubs.
- Never swim alone and try to stay within eyesight of a lifeguard station.
- Do not go swimming, tubing or boating after sunset.
- When at a backyard pool, lake or beach, always have an adult watch children in the water at all times.
Memorial Day Safety Tip #3 – Grill/Fire Safety
Emergency care centers see their share of burn victims because of unsafe grilling or bonfire practices. If your weekend plans include grilling or sitting near an open fire, please keep these Memorial Day Safety Tips in mind:
- Never leave a grill or fire unattended, be mindful of the wind and extinguish all fires completely.
- Do not grill indoors, keep grills, bonfires and fire pits away from low hanging branches and materials that can easily catch fire.
- Make sure your grill is properly cleaned before using it, clogged gas burners, and leftover grease can cause a fire to spiral out of control within seconds.
- When grilling, use the long handle utensils made especially for barbequing and keep an extinguisher nearby.
- Never add starter fuel to already ignited charcoal & ALWAYS keep children and pets away from the grill and fire pit.
Memorial Day Safety Tip #4 – Safe Sun Exposure
Temperatures this weekend are forecast to reach the 80’s. While it may not feel hot outside, the inside of a car or other vehicle can reach 100+ degrees when left in the sun for a short time. An important Memorial Day Safety Tip is to protect yourself and your family members from extended sun exposure to avoid sunburns or a heat stroke.
- Wear SFP 15 or higher sunscreen, apply it 30 minutes before exposure and reapply every 2 hours.
- Use sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes and always drink plenty of water while celebrating outdoors.
- If you or a family member feels faint or nauseous, move them to a cool place immediately, if necessary apply cold compresses to the back of their neck and forehead to help lower their body temperature.
- If you have children, schedule their outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon, do not leave them unsupervised on a hot day.
Memorial Day Safety Tip #5 – Travel Safely
This is one the busiest and dangerous travel weekends of the year, follow these Memorial Day Safety Tips to ensure your family’s safety:
- Always wear seat belts and make sure child car seats are properly installed.
- Have your car serviced before a long trip.
- Plan your trip beforehand and give yourself extra travel time.
- Never drink and drive or allow yourself or anyone else to get into a car with someone who has been drinking.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 90 percent of crashes are due to human error.
By committing to safe driving, we’re protecting ourselves and everyone we share the road with on a daily basis, said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray. Actions such as obeying the speed limit, paying attention, driving sober and wearing a seat belt are proven measures to save lives.
There were 732 roadway fatalities in 2019. So far in 2020, preliminary numbers indicate there have been 201 fatalities, down 38 compared to the same time period last year.
“We’re thankful when drivers make good decisions behind the wheel; however, sometimes even the most attentive drivers are involved in a crash,” said KOHS Acting Executive Director Jason Siwula. “That’s why we encourage everyone to always wear a seat belt, as it is the best protection against an aggressive, distracted or impaired driver.”
Both drivers and passengers should buckle up each and every time they get in a vehicle. While more and more cars feature modern safety features to reduce crashes and fatal injuries, seat belts still rank supreme. According to KOHS, each year in Kentucky, more than half of those killed are not wearing a seat belt.
“A single death is frankly one too many and were asking for the public’s help,” said Siwula. “Think about what we’ve accomplished so far during this crisis, and what we can continue to accomplish if we keep looking out for each other.”