Safety 1st On The 4th

bklein@timesobserver.com

An estimated 41 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 is five days from Wednesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 6.

AAA predicts a 1.9 percent increase from 40.3 million people who traveled last year and a near 14 percent increase compared to the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The majority of travelers over the holiday will be celebrating with a road trip, with more than eight in 10 or 34.8 million choosing to travel by automobile, the highest level since 2007.

The nearly 85 percent of travelers going by car will also see the highest Independence Day gas prices in six years.

“In recent years gas prices have declined in the weeks leading up to Independence Day, but this has not occurred this summer due to higher crude oil costs as fighting intensifies in Iraq,” AAA said in a press release. “AAA does not believe that high gas prices will have a significant impact on the number of people traveling, but it could result in some consumers cutting back on dining, shopping or other trip activities.”

Not leaving the area for the holiday?

The Warren County DUI enforcement task force will be out doing sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols around the county.

“Enjoy the holiday weekend but plan ahead and do not drive impaired. We ask citizens to call 911 if they suspect an impaired driver on our highways,” DUI C-Coordinator and Youngsville Borough Police Chief Todd Mineweaser said.

The City of Warren Fire Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also encouraging residents to safely enjoy fireworks, the pool and the Allegheny Reservoir.

Fireworks safety

Only use items specifically permitted in Pennsylvania, these items include “ground and hand-held sparklers devices,” “novelties” and “toy caps.” These items are considered “non-fireworks” therefore their sale and use are permissible, City of Warren Fire Department Operations and Training Officer Joe Beardsley said.

Use these items as directed on the consumer product safety label and never alter these products.

A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Alcohol and fireworks should never be used together.

Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area free of buildings, vehicles and other combustible items.

Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.

Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.

Never relight a “dud”, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water. Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can, he said.

Water Safety

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

Doug Helman, resource manger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Kinzua Dam, said the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the U.S. Forest Service and the Corps will maintain a presence on the Allegheny Reservoir over the Fourth of July weekend, and most other weekends to promote water safety including random boat inspections.

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.

Residents are encouraged to be a “water watcher” as children can drown 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.

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.

When boating or swimming on the creeks or rivers, wear life jackets, Beardsley said, adding it only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown.

To help someone who appears to be drowning, keep a reasonable distance and throw them something that floats to pull them to safety.

Protect yourself from the sun and heat. Always watch the weather and take shelter if a storm approaches. Be cautious of high, fast-moving water.