With the summer months approaching, people become more active and families embark on vacations. Whether you go out of town for vacation, or stay at home, the following tips will help keep you safe and healthy, and will allow you to enjoy the summer without experiencing a serious incident:
1. When traveling, do not let children go off alone. This is particularly important when stopping at gas stations, quick stops, rest areas, or for food. Have an adult or an older child accompany younger children to restrooms, and make sure that children know not to engage in conversation with strangers.
2. Be careful in shopping center parking lots while getting gas for you car. An emerging crime here in Jacksonville, and in the Florida area, is purse snatching and identity theft. Do not leave your purse exposed on the car seat, and make sure to lock your car when pumping gas. If you are leaving a shopping center mall after daylight hours, have a security officer or guard accompany you to your car. When leaving the mall during daylight hours, be aware of your surroundings. If at any time you feel that you are being followed or approached, take steps to alert others such as screaming, yelling, or pushing the panic button on your key to your automobile. If you are in your car, and are approached by a stranger, sound the horn and pull away if possible. This is a perfect example of how an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
3. Prevent sunburn and treat insect bites promptly. Many families head outdoors and go camping or hiking during the summer. The sun causes damage to people of all skin tones, and therefore everyone should take precaution and wear sun screen of SPF 15 or higher. Insect bites (i.e mosquitoes, chiggers, gnats, etc.) can cause local skin discomfort and sometimes generalized sickness. Treat bites appropriately and apply alcohol to the affected area. If swelling or other localized pain and discomfort intensifies go to the emergency room or see a doctor immediately. Some insect and other bites can cause serious allergic reactions in some people.
4. Plan for emergencies or delays when traveling. When traveling by car, make sure that you take water and snacks with you in the event that you break down and have an extended wait for help to arrive. Also, take a fully charged cell phone with you on your trip along with your phone charger, and make sure that someone at home knows where you will be, how long you will be away, and your expected date of return. Check your spare tire and fluid levels before departing on your trip. When children are traveling without their parents for an extended period, make sure they call home daily to check in. When traveling by air, make sure that you stay aware of your surroundings, and advise airline personnel of any suspicious activity.
5. Boating safety. Just as drinking does not mix well with driving, the same is true with drinking and boating. Most boating-related injuries and deaths involve alcohol and/or lack of preparation in the event of an emergency. If you are responsible for operating the boat/vessel do not drink. Make sure those aboard the vessel follow local laws concerning open containers. Also ensure that there are life preservers/floatation devices available for each occupant on board the boat. Obey wake zones and speed limits and do not allow horseplay or recklessness aboard the vessel at any time. If the weather is threatening, do not travel too far from shore, or better yet, make the decision not to go boating that particular day.
6. Motorcycles. Sunny days are great for riding motorcycles. Motorcyclists as a group are some of the safest people on the road, its automobile drivers that are most often responsible for causing motorcycle accidents. Remember that as a motorcyclist you are a smaller target and may be in some other vehicle’s blind spot. When passing or turning, properly clear yourself and always use turn and arm and hand signals when required. Make sure that you have a fully operational horn on your motorcycle, and don’t forget to wear a helmet and protective clothing.
7. Barbecue Grills. Summer is a time for having parties, picnics, and barbecues. Before using your grill, do a visual inspection to make sure that the hoses are not worn or frayed, and that your propane tank is not rusted or corroded. Use only propane tanks that have an overfill protection device (OPD). If there is any doubt about the safety of your grill, have someone professionally inspect and repair the grill, or buy a new one. Many injuries and deaths are caused every year due to exploding propane gas grills.
8. Drinking and driving simply do not mix. If you are out at a party, a restaurant, or visiting with friends and you intend to consume alcohol, assign a designated driver or make the decision to take a taxi to and from your destination. When in doubt, always call a cab. A DUI is not only an embarrassment, but it will also cause you to have a record. It is far less expensive to take a taxi than it is to pay a fine for a DUI. Be smart and think ahead.
Summer is a time for fun, and by following these safety tips you are more likely to avoid accidents, and have a memorable, enjoyable and injury-free summer vacation.
Consumer Justice Attorney
Zisser Robison Brown Nowlis Maciejewski & Cabrey, P.A.
1 Independent Drive, Suite 3306
Jacksonville, FL 32202