TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – More than 42 million Americans are expected to travel over the Memorial Day weekend, the most in more than a dozen years and Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis offered safety tips for Floridians to stay safe over the holiday.
“As millions of Americans gather with family and friends to honor the legacy of the over 1.35 million service members who have lost their lives in conflict, we must remember to stay safe while enjoying this major holiday weekend. Remember to drive safely, enjoying barbeque grills, swimming in pools, and using fireworks with caution. Do not let a fun holiday weekend turn into a tragedy,” Patronis said.
Tips to stay safe this Memorial Day:
Use caution while on the roadways and avoid distractions while driving. A study shows that Memorial Day weekend is the leading major holiday weekend for fatal car accidents. Memorial Day weekend remains a top travel time for many Americans. Be a defensive driver, and never text while driving.
Stay safe around the grill. Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors. The grill should be placed away from the home or deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Clean grill by removing grease and fat buildup from the grates and trays below and never leave your grill unattended.
Watch after swimmers. Florida leads the country in drowning deaths of children ages 1-4. Always supervise weaker swimmers and children around water. Try appointing someone as a lifeguard to ensure swimmers safety and always keep an eye on younger children.
Take caution with fireworks. In 2017, there were eight deaths and 12,900 firework injuries nationwide. Many Florida towns and cities allow for select smaller fireworks to be enjoyed at home. Remember to follow local laws regarding what kind of fireworks are permitted. Use sparklers and other legal novelties on a flat, hard surface. Do not light them on the grass and only use sparklers in an open area. Keep children and pets at least 30 feet away from all ignited sparklers. Light only one item at a time and never attempt to re-light a "dud." Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks and keep a fire extinguisher or water hose on-hand for emergencies. It's a good idea to drop used sparklers in a bucket of water.
The fire danger across Northeast Florida is extremely high at the same time that we are experiencing a major heatwave. News4Jax Meteorologists say the fire danger will build with the heat as the sun is super strong this time of year and we don't have a lot of moisture in the atmosphere. The moisture is so limited that not only don't we see any chances of rain, but we may only see a handful of clouds. That will make a huge impact on top-soil moisture, Expect the fire dangers to soar.
That means any little spark could ignite a fire so everyone is urged to take extra precautions. Forestry and Firefighters have been battling several wildfires including the Yellow Bluff Wildfire that caused the closure of Interstate 95 for hours on Thursday and Friday.
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