Labor Day weekend is the perfect chance to relax and enjoy the last days of sunshine before yellowing leaves and rain. Whether you’re planning on swimming, taking a road trip, or hosting a barbecue for friends and family, here are some tips for staying safe so that you can make the most of the long weekend.
1. Swim safe
If you’re planning on going out on the water to celebrate the day off, make sure that you’re well-equipped, whether you’re swimming, boating, or even planning on being near water.
According to Adeline Yee, a spokesperson for the California Department of Parks and Recreation, children swimming in public lakes and rivers should be equipped with well-fitting life jackets. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to $500 for their parents. While they swim, an adult should be supervising them at all times.
There are also precautions you can take if you’re going out on a boat. According to CDPR, most boating fatalities occur on holiday weekends. Drunk driving is a leading cause in fatal boating accidents, so think about leaving alcohol on the shore before you head out into the water. If you do decide to bring some, make sure there is someone other than the driver who is alert and ready to take over the helm.
Life jackets on boats can mean the difference between life and death — according to the Coast Guard, three out of four boating fatalities could have been prevented if the victims wore a life jacket. And if you’re worried about the bulky gear ruining your labor day outfit, don’t be — according to Yee, life jackets are getting more and more fashionable.
“You can stay safe and still look good,” she said.
2. Plan your road trip early
For many families, the long weekend is the perfect opportunity to take a day trip, or a three-day getaway. According to the Red Cross, when making travel plans, it’s important to plan early — check the traffic patterns and the weather forecasat for the day you’re planning to leave, use your headlights if you’re traveling at night, and make sure someone not on the trip with you knows where you’re headed.
And be advised: I-5 will have multiple lanes closed during the weekend due to a pothole that damaged multiple vehicles Thursday, so plan ahead to make sure traffic won’t stop you from getting to where you need to go on time.
3. Hike Prepared
When going on a hike, ask a friend or family member to come along with you — there is safety in numbers, Yee said. Make sure to bring plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is 1 quart every hour, per person.
But, according to Yee, the most important safety item is something you leave behind — an itinerary, with someone you know who’s staying at home. Let them know where you’re going, who you’re going with, and when you plan to be back. That way, if you get lost, rescuers will know where and who to look for. Yee also advised leaving a copy of your itinerary under the front seat of your car.
And during your hike, if you see a bear that looks exactly like your childhood stuffed animal, resist the urge to feed or touch it. Feeding wild animals is a threat to your safety, and their safety.
“Don’t feed them, no matter how cute they look,” Yee said.
4. Fire up the grill — but don’t start a fire
Thinking about bringing out the grill to celebrate the last days of summer? Make sure an adult is always supervising the barbecue when it’s on, said the Red Cross. And to prevent fires from starting, keep the grill away from the house, tree branches, and any other flammable objects.
If you’re planning on starting a fire in a public park to grill up some food, the Parks service recommends you keep your fires at a manageable size and completely extinguish them before you leave.
5. Slather on the sunscreen
The temperature this weekend is going to climb to the 90s, so if you’re going to spend a long time outside, make sure to wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, even if it looks cloudy out, the California Parks Department said. As an added precaution, you should protect your eyes with sunglasses. And if you have a newborn, keep them out of the sun.