Holiday safety encouraged on road, water, with fireworks

An estimated 40.8 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday and a number of organizations are urging Warren County residents to take precautions to remain safe.

The Independence Day holiday travel period this year lost a day and returned to the five day period from Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7, as compared to last years six-day travel period when the 4th of July fell on a Wednesday in 2012.

That means a shorter vacation for travelers who are largely expected to travel by automobile with most leaving on Wednesday for their destination. The average traveler over Independence Day holiday is expected to make a round-trip distance of 613 miles and will spend $747, according to AAA.

“Although national travel is expected to be down slightly, we are still seeing an overall upward trend from the decade low of 29.8 million July 4th travelers in 2009, according to Jim Lehman, President, AAA East Central. “It’s not unusual to experience a slight decrease in travelers during years that have a shorter celebratory period.”

Not leaving the area for the holiday?

The local American Red Cross and the Army Corps of Engineers are also encouraging residents to safely enjoy fireworks, the pool, and the Allegheny Reservoir.

“Our organization encourages residents to safely enjoy this year’s Fourth of July,” said Pam Masi, executive director of the local Red Cross. “Whether the weekend will involve fireworks, grilling or going to the pool, we have safety tips everyone can follow.”

Fireworks safety

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by attending a public fireworks show run by professionals, the Red Cross says, people watching fireworks should stay at least 500 feet away from the show.

If residents are setting fireworks off at home, they should follow these safety tips:

Never give fireworks to small children

Always follow the instructions on the packaging

Keep a supply of water close as a precaution

The person lighting fireworks should always wear eye protection

Light only one firework at time

Never attempt to relight a “dud.”

Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets

Never throw or point a firework towards people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials

Leave the area immediately if untrained amateurs are using fireworks

Water Safety

Swimming is the most popular summer activity, and Warren residents should make sure to swim in areas supervised by lifeguards and stay up to date with weather and water conditions.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends residents visiting the Kinzua Dam and the Allegheny Reservoir wear a life jacket as statistics show that 90 percent of those who drown at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake and rivers may have survived if they had worn a life jacket.

“Drowning is the Nation’s second leading cause of accidental death, yet it is possible just by wearing a life jacket these drowning deaths can be reduced,” Steve Lauser, Kinzua Dam and Allegheny Reservoir park ranger said. “Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool. You can tire more quickly and get into trouble. Even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating and swimming. Conditions can change quickly in open water, so before entering the water wear a life jacket. While wearing a life jacket you will not use as much energy, it will help out float and most importantly it will help you ensure that you return home alive to those who you love.”

Residents are encouraged to be a “water watcher” as children can down in 20 seconds and recognize the four signs of a drowning victim; head back, gasping for air, no yelling or sound and arms slapping the water looking like they are trying to climb out of the water, Lauser said.

Boaters are also encouraged to avoid exhaust fumes as carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around boats, regardless of what type of boat.

Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors on and inside your boat

Maintain a fresh circulation of air through and around your boat at all times

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness.

Avoid areas around boats where exhaust fumes may be present.