More than 36 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this Labor Day holiday. The holiday officially begins Friday afternoon, September 2, and ends at the end of Labor Day on Monday, September 5. Since Chicago is the third most popular Labor Day vacation site, airports, train stations and highways are expected to be abnormally congested.
Even without tourists, roads would be busier than usual. Local people will be traveling across town for outdoor barbecues with their friends, visits to the Navy Pier for fireworks, or attendance at any of the holiday events taking place in Chicago over the weekend. It is just common sense that the more people, more cars and more events there are, the more accidents there will be. As a police sergeant on the old 1980s television show, “Hill Street Blues” cautioned his officers on every episode, “Hey. Let’s be careful out there.”
Travel Safety Tips
Any holiday where people are out having fun, traveling around town or across the country is a prime time for accidents. Drivers get tired and distracted. People let their guard down and often drink too much. The American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both publish lists of travel safety tips. Some of their suggestions include:
- Do not drink and drive. As one television public service advertisement reminds you, buzzed driving is drunk driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has admonished states to ramp up their enforcement of NHTSA’s “Drive Sober or Be Pulled Over” campaign during Labor Day travel time.
- Get your car in shape. Before you start off on your jaunt, do a routine check of your car to be sure oil and radiator fluids are at the right levels and tires are in good shape with the proper tread level and tire pressure. Keep an emergency kit in the trunk with water, a flashlight, maybe some energy bars and blankets. You may get stranded or be stopped on the highway if there is an unexpected problem up ahead.
- Keep your cell phone charged: Keep a charged cell phone with you so you can call for help if necessary.
- Plan your route. Use your GPS or an online mapping service. Check to be sure no roads are closed. Try to avoid heavy traffic areas.
- Allow extra time to get to your destination. With so many more cars on the road than usual, plan for traffic snarls and allow extra time for your travel.
- Buckle up. Illinois has a “Click it or Ticket” campaign to remind and encourage people to always fasten their seat belts. The risk of serious injury or death in a car accident is substantially reduced for those who wear seat belts.
Safety Tips for the Barbecue
The most popular Labor Day event is likely backyard barbecuing. Common sense tips include:
- Keeping small children and pets away from the grill.
- Use long-handled utensils and an oven mitt. Wear a thick apron.
- Do not leave the grill unattended.
- Keep the grill clean. A build-up of grease makes it more susceptible to starting a fire.
- Keep the grill away from overhanging tree branches and other things that could possibly catch on fire.
In 2012, nearly 17,000 people visited hospital emergency rooms for treatment due to a grilling accident. Do not let you, your friends or your loved ones become grilling accident statistics.
General Safety Tips
- Use plenty of sunscreen. If you are boating, sitting on the beach, lounging in the backyard or in any place where you have more than normal sun exposure, lather on the sunscreen.
- Do not let young children use public restrooms alone. The minor inconvenience of accompanying them far outweighs the slim chance that something bad could happen to them if left alone.
- Drink plenty of water. It is easy to become dehydrated when involved in activities or just being outside in the sun.
- Use good handwashing techniques when using public restrooms. Viruses spread quickly and can quickly make you very sick.
- Be careful in the water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 10 people a day drown in the U.S. Almost 100 percent of those deaths could have been prevented.
- If boating, rafting, tubing or just swimming in the lake, wear life vests.
If you were injured, whether over the Labor Day holiday or any other day, and you believe the injury was due to the negligence of another, contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer at the Blumenshine Law Group (312)766-1000 for a free, no obligation, case evaluation.