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Hundreds of thousands of North Texans will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend driving on area roadways, enjoying outdoor events, and perhaps engaging in water recreation. 

MedStar offers these tips to help keep the weekend safe!

Roadway Safety/Driving Tips:

According to study recently released by the National Coalition for Safer Roads Memorial Day weekend is the most dangerous holiday for road and highway accidents.

  • Allow extra travel time– It is more important to arrive at your destination safely, than to arrive at your desired time. Don’t push traffic lights and speed to make it to your destination early. Expect increased traffic and understand it may take longer to reach your destination on the holiday.
  • Get out of your vehicle and stretch– Moving your legs and walking every couple of hours will help you stay alert on the roads. We suggest even parking at a parking spot further away when you take a break, so you have to walk a little farther distance.
  • Understand the times of highest risk– The greatest risk is on Friday afternoon, as people are getting off work and are ready to enjoy the weekend. During these times, be prepared as the sun will be setting and travelers will be tired from the day’s labor. Be sure not to block the roadway with your visor, bring a snack as you will likely be hungry and that can also contribute to stress levels.

Outdoor Grilling:

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2014-2018, fire departments went to an annual average of 8,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outside or unclassified fires.  In 2014-2018, an average of 19,700 patients per year went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills. Nearly half (9,500 or 48%) of the injuries were thermal burns, including both burns from fire and from contact with hot objects; 5,200 thermal burns, per year, were caused by such contact or other non-fire events. They recommend:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed away the home or deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Children and pets should be at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease and fat buildup from the grates and trays below.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Water Safety:

Since May of last year, MedStar crews have responded to 35 drowning incidents.  Of these, 20 involved children under 10 years old.  The World Health Organization identifies drowning as the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death[i]

MedStar encourages everyone to be especially careful as we enter the hot summer season – here are some tips to help prevent drowning tragedies:

  • Learn to swim and teach your children to swim. Enroll in age-appropriate water orientation and learn-to-swim courses, as well as first aid and CPR courses. 
  • Actively supervise children whenever around water – even if lifeguards are present.
    • Momentary distractions such as phone calls, using the restroom, or someone at the door can provide enough time for a child to access the pool and quietly slip under water.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers—many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.  Install a four-sided barrier, such as a fence with self-closing gates completely surrounding the pool.
    • If the house forms the fourth side of the barrier, install alarms on doors leading to the pool area to prevent children from wandering into the pool or spa. Also install safety covers and perimeter or in-water alarms as additional layers of protection.
  • Practice safe habits in and around the water:
    • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
    • Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use.
      • The presence of these toys may encourage children to enter the pool area or lean over the pool and potentially fall in.
    • Know how and when to call 9-1-1.

Know how to respond to water emergency:

  • Seconds count—learn CPR.
    • CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes in drowning victims.
    • The more quickly CPR is started, the better the chance of improved outcomes.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • If someone is in the water and needs help, reach or throw something out to them – don’t go in unless you are trained.
  • If the drowning is in a lake, find a landmark where the victim went underwater that is not subject to wind or tides.
    • Knowing where exactly to start a search will speed the process.
  • Have rescue and first aid equipment available at the pool, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.