A study conducted between 2011 and 2015 found that you are four times more likely to die in a car accident on Memorial Day weekend than any other weekend, including the weekends of the Fourth of July or New Year’s holidays. In 2020, 397 people lost their lives on Memorial Day which is higher than the average of 312 people that lose their lives in Memorial Day car wrecks every year.
Car accidents are not the only Memorial Day Weekend activities that may turn out to be hazardous. People drown in lakes and pools. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources notes that Memorial Day is the first big weekend for boaters, and warns them to be careful. Chicago firefighters caution those interested in swimming in Lake Michigan to test the water temperature first. Two people died in early May when they went swimming in the lake’s frigid water.
People are injured and fires started that may turn an outdoor barbeque into a really memorable event, perhaps a sad one. Even though most people safely enjoy their Memorial Day outdoor barbecues, the Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that every year, 5,700 grill fires occur, resulting in an annual cost of approximately $37 million. One hundred people are seriously injured and 10 people are killed. Thousands more visit hospital emergency rooms for treatment of their burns.
The Red Cross and other organizations have specific instructions you can follow to do what you can to be sure that you and your family members stay safe during this holiday weekend. Make sure your holiday ends in a time filled with happy memory-making, and not one that leaves you and others in emotional or physical pain, or both.
Memorial Day Weekend Safety Tips
Tips for on the road safety
These suggestions are really instructions that apply to any time you are driving either by yourself or with passengers. Just make sure to exercise extra care now that you know of the increased risk of being in an accident on this particular holiday weekend.
- Follow all the rules of the road. Remember that driving the posted speed limit may still be too fast for road conditions and the number of other vehicles on the road.
- Do not drink and drive. Always use a designated driver.
- Recognize that drinking a “few beers” at a barbecue can easily put your blood alcohol content over the legal limit of 0.08.
- Avoid distractions, like using your cell phone, children arguing in the back seat, or even adjusting the radio. Even though Illinois law permits those over the age of 19 to talk on their cell phones if their device is hands-free, that can still be a dangerous practice, particularly while driving in heavy traffic.
- If you are taking a long trip, stop frequently to give yourself and your passengers a break.
- Be sure your headlights and windows are clean so you have maximum visibility.
- Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to get there so if you do not make it to your destination as planned, someone will know and be able to send help.
Water safety tips
Be sure your family practices the buddy system so that no one goes swimming alone, whether you are at a friend’s pool, your own pool, a hotel/motel pool, a lake, river, or pond. Additional tips are:
- Avoid swimming in cold water lakes. As firefighters have mentioned, test the temperature of the water. Cold water can quickly kill. Thinking about air temperature being 50 degrees sounds fine, but cold water safety experts say that swimming in water temperatures below 70 degrees can be dangerous. Olympic pools are heated to between 77 and 82 degrees for the safety of the swimmers.
- Never take your eyes off children in the pool even if they know how to swim.
- When boating, always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- Know the signs you will see if someone is drowning. Drowning is generally silent. People do not scream and flail their arms. They quietly bob up and down as they gasp for air.
Grill safety tips
Even if you have barbecued too many times to count, always remember these safety tips.
- Keep the grill on a level surface, out in the open and away from the house or overhanging tree branches.
- Never grill indoors or in a tent.
- Always protect yourself by using long-handled tools specifically designed to be used with grills.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular grill.
No matter how careful people are during the Memorial Day holiday, they still may be hurt by the negligence of another who was not quite careful enough. If this happens to you, the Blumenshine Law Group is able to help. Call or text us at (312)766-1000 or email at [email protected] for a free consultation and case review.