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Grilling, Swimming, Driving A Triple Threat This Memorial Day Weekend



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While everybody may be mindful of minimizing the threat of spreading or contracting COVID-19 as Connecticut’s first reopening weekend coincides with the Memorial Day holiday, safety authorities are also sending out reminders about a triple threat that has sadly injured many and cost lives annually.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging parents and other adults to plan multiple layers of protection to keep children and teens safe around water this spring and summer. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as children spend more time at home with caregivers who may be distracted by work and other responsibilities.

“Drowning is the single leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, and it’s one of the top causes of death for teens. As children are at home more due to social isolation recommendations, they may have more access to pools, bathtubs, and other sources of water – all of which pose a drowning risk,” said pediatrician Ben Hoffman, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence & Poison Prevention.

“Families may also be visiting lakes, rivers or other open bodies of water as a way to get outdoors while still maintaining physical distance to reduce the spread of coronavirus. We have to make sure that we plan layers of protection to keep children and teens safe around water, wherever they are,” Dr Hoffman said.

According to the AAP, the layers of protection should include:

*All children and adults should learn to swim. If swim lessons are suspended in your area due to coronavirus, it is important to add other layers of protection until your child can access lessons.

*Close, constant, attentive supervision around water is important. Assign an adult ‘water watcher,’ who should not be distracted by work, socializing, or chores.

*Around the house, empty all buckets, bathtubs, and wading pools immediately after use. If you have young children, keep the bathroom door closed, and use toilet locks to prevent access.

*Pools should be surrounded by a four-sided fence, with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Research shows pool fencing can reduce drowning risk by 50%. Additional barriers can include door locks, window locks, pool covers and pool alarms.

*Adults and older children should learn CPR.

*Everyone, children and adults, should wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are in open water, or on watercraft.

*Parents and teens should understand how using alcohol and drugs increases the risk of drowning while swimming or boating.

“We can’t drown-proof kids, and so planning layers of protection is the best way to protect all children around water,” Dr. Hoffman said.

For more AAP resources on drowning prevention CLICK HERE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance on public pools, hot tubs and water parks during COVID-19. To review those resources CLICK HERE

Plan For Safe Grilling

While New Englanders prepare to gather around the grill this Memorial Day weekend, it’s important that grills are used properly.

Before bringing out portable appliances and firing up the grill, ask yourself, is your barbecue zone as safe as it can be for visiting little ones - or your own?

Recently, the Farm Bureau Financial Services reached out to remind consumers that every year, way too many kids show up at the emergency room suffering grill-related injuries. They may look cool, but charcoal and gas grills can stay hot for hours after cooking, and it only takes a second to inflict a serious burn, according to the bureau.

Having a fire extinguisher and knowing how to use it is also important. REMEMBER — even small fires can spread quickly so the biggest concern is ALWAYS getting yourself and others to safety - then calling for help.

Here’s a few more safety pointers from FBFS:

*Locate your grill should be on a flat surface and not be at risk for moving, sliding or toppling over.

*Use proper charcoal starter fluid, NOT gasoline or kerosene.

*Keep starter fluid capped and away from your grill.

*Don’t add starter fluid to hot coals.

*Wait 48 HOURS before disposing of charcoal and ashes.

*Avoid grilling while intoxicated; you might be tempted to partake in the festivities, but save your merrymaking until after the crew has been fed.

The Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE) also recommends:

*From assembly, to use, maintenance, cleaning, or storage, your grill manufacturer’s instructions are your go-to resource for safe grilling.

*Keep your grill at least 5-10 feet from the house on a level surface clear of all furniture, overhead trees, or other potential fire hazards.

*Use soapy water to check connections for leaks. Expanding bubbles indicate a leak. Follow this procedure every time you replace a cylinder.

*Always keep the lid open and don’t lean over the grill when lighting it.

*Propane tanks should NEVER be stored indoors or in an enclosed area like a basement, garage, or shed.

*Be Present. Stay close and never leave your grill unattended.

Choose A Designated Driver

Memorial Day Weekend historically marks an increase in drunk driving injuries and deaths, and as businesses begin to reopen across the country, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is urging everyone to always make a plan for a non-drinking driver before leaving home.

Every year, about 37 percent of all traffic deaths over Memorial Day Weekend are caused by drunk driving. Connecticut has the third highest percentage of fatal crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs in the country, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The combination of the three-day holiday weekend and easing of restrictions is expected to put more cars on the road as people begin to venture out after months of isolation.

“We know life is different for all of us this year. Stay-at-home orders have meant fewer tragedies on our roads,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “While we can only hope that this trend continues, the fact is that we don’t know what to expect. We do know that even during the pandemic, drunk driving hasn’t stopped.”

Drunk driving is the leading killer on America’s roads, claiming more than 10,000 lives and injuring more than 300,000 people every year. In addition, law enforcement reports an increase in drivers with both alcohol and drugs in their system — a deadly combination.

“This Memorial Day Weekend, as we honor our nation’s heroes who sacrificed their lives to save ours, let’s not diminish their valiant actions by making choices that cause senseless, 100 percent preventable tragedies,” Witty said.

This weekend also marks the start of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s annual “Click it or Ticket” campaign. Law enforcement will be out checking to make sure motorists are buckled. As conditions allow, MADD is teaming up with law enforcement virtually and in-person to support the efforts of law enforcement officers, whose work has not stopped.

MADD also has been providing supportive services virtually to victims of drunk and drugged driving throughout the pandemic.

MADD’s helpline is always available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 877-MADD-HELP.

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