4 tips for a safe Memorial Day weekend

memorialdayweekend_largeMemorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season. Many will spend the long weekend taking a road trip, having their first picnic of the season or enjoying that first dip in the ocean or pool.  

Unfortunately, Memorial Day weekend can also be one of the busiest weekends for emergency responders. No one's weekend plans include a trip to the hospital, so keep an eye out for these potential safety hazards so you can have the safest and most fun holiday weekend.

1. Stay hydrated and drink responsibly

While you’re enjoying outdoor activities and the warm weather, it’s easy to be hit by dehydration—and most people don’t see it coming. Becoming dehydrated might occur faster if you’re taking certain medications or partaking in outdoor activities like biking, running or swimming. It’s important to make sure you’re keeping up with your water intake.

These signs may indicate that you need to drink some water:

  • Intense thirst or hunger
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations/heart racing
  • Overly sweating, then not at all
  • Fatigue
  • Dark urine

Alcohol might be a part of your Memorial Day celebration. If so, decide in advance how much alcohol you’re going to be drinking, and stick to your plan. Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body, as well as making you more susceptible to heat exposure and sunburns. Consume plenty of water in addition to your beverage of choice and don’t drink on an empty stomach.

2. Be safe in the sun

After a long winter, there’s no better feeling than soaking up the sun on Memorial Day weekend – but don’t forget about sunscreen. Your skin can become burned after just an hour in the sun, so make sure you’re reapplying a high SPF sunscreen every few hours (or every hour if you’re in the water). 

Being dehydrated and certain skin-related antibiotics can make you more susceptible to sunburn. If you happen to get burned, general redness can be treated with aloe, but, if a burn starts to blister, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Read these other tips for treating sunburn.

It’s also important to make sure you take a break from the sun. Staying in the sun too long can cause things like lightheadedness, dizziness and confusion, which can ultimately lead to heat exhaustion/stroke. If you start to experience any of these symptoms, take a break from the outdoors and spend some time in the air conditioning. If symptoms don’t seem to be getting better, call 911 or go to the closest emergency department.

3. Avoid burns from fires and grills

If you’ve spent much time around a grill during your lifetime, you might recall a grandparent, parent or perhaps your crazy uncle dousing a live charcoal fire with lighter fluid just to keep the flames burning. Not only did that practice likely lend an odd flavor to the barbecued food, it wasn’t the safest thing to do. It’s important to use common sense when grilling to avoid serious injuries.

Before you break out your grill, make sure it’s been thoroughly cleaned. Keep items that you don’t want grilled away from the flame, and don’t wear loose clothing when you’re cooking. Never light your grill or fire with lighter fluid, and make sure your propane is turned off and coals are completely out once you’re finished. 

4. Travel: Bikes, cars and boats

Remember: You should wear a helmet while you’re riding bikes or motorcycles, and seat belts in a car. Refrain from texting or other distracting activities while operating any moving vehicles and never consume alcohol while operating a car, boat, bike, ATV, etc. If you plan on spending time on the water, make sure you’re wearing a life jacket at all times. 

Share these Memorial Day safety tips with your friends and family, and have a safe and happy holiday!

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