Traditionally, Labor Day signals the end of summer for millions of Americans.
As you pack up the family and travel toward your favorite fun, recreational destination, be sure that safety does not get overlooked during your quest to enjoy the season’s last hurrah. Whether driving or boating, there are a few precautions that get forgotten — sometimes with tragic consequences — every year at this time.
Make the drive alive
Our constant interaction with our cars leads many of us to complacency when we pile the family in for a weekend jaunt.
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After all, we’re in and out of our vehicles several times a day. Nothing ever happens. Why should this time be any different?
The reality is that, according to National Safety Council estimates, more than 35,000 Americans were killed in traffic accidents last year.
Keep safe this Labor Day with the following tips:
Be sure the driver is well rested. Inattentiveness due to tiredness can lead to mistakes of judgment that can be extremely hazardous.
Be sure everyone uses seat belts – even the back seat passengers in a minivan. Check that children are in age-appropriate safety seats.
Don’t tailgate and stay aware of cars on all sides of your vehicle, especially when changing lanes. Use your mirrors and double-check your blind spots.
Speed limits matter even more on holidays when traffic is heavier and law enforcement may be as well.
Distracted driving is increasingly a cause of accidents. Pull over to make a cell call or text. Don’t text while driving and don’t drink while driving.
Allow plenty of time so you will not be rushed on your drive.
It’s a cliche but it is still important: Drive defensively.
Remember to give emergency vehicles the right of way.
On the water
Here are some tips to assure that your boating experience is safe and fun:
Check weather conditions before leaving home. Kansas weather is notoriously quick to change.
Have a departure checklist that prepares for any possibility, and use it.
Be sure that every person on the boat has a life jacket, no matter what his or her level of swimming ability. No exceptions.
Make your float plan known to someone, either a family member or a marina staff person. The plan should tell where you are going and how long you will be gone.
Use common sense. Operate at a safe speed, stay alert, steer clear of larger vessels and respect buoys and other navigational aids.
Have an assistant skipper. If you should become injured or incapacitated, be sure someone else knows how to handle the craft and can get everyone to shore safely.
Avoid alcohol while piloting a boat. It doubles the probability of an accident. One-third of boating accidents involve alcohol.
The end of summer is sad to many of us. The tendency to whoop it up is strong.
Enjoy your Labor Day weekend but take precautions to assure that it is a safe time for you and your family.
Denise Groene is the state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. Contact the bureau at 800-856-2417 or bbbinc.org.