By Mitchell Kilpatrick
Memorial Day is an opportunity to celebrate the freedoms our country affords us and acknowledge the sacrifices made by U.S. armed forces members. The three-day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and staying safe is a critical part of enjoying the holiday.
May is designated National Electrical Safety Month and National Water Safety Month. It’s important to know how to stay safe throughout the summer, as many Alabamians head outdoors to enjoy the water and recreation. The Electrical Safety Foundation International offers these tips to stay safe around water and electricity:
- Practice Swimming Safety. Never swim near a running boat, marina or launching ramp. Residual electrical current could flow into the water from the boat or the marina’s wiring, potentially putting anyone in the water at risk of electric shock drowning.
- Put It to the Test. Be sure your boat is properly maintained and consider having it inspected annually. Circuit breakers should be tested monthly to ensure functionality. Conduct leakage testing to determine if electrical current is escaping the vessel.
- Use the Right Tool. Never use household cords near water. Use only portable ground-fault circuit interrupters or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are “UL-Marine Listed.”
- Know Your Surroundings. Know where your main breakers are located on both the boat and the shore power source so that you can respond quickly in case of an emergency. Be aware of any potential electrical hazards by checking for nearby power lines before boating, fishing or swimming.
- Learn the Code. Regularly have your boat’s electrical system inspected and upgraded by a certified marine electrician to be sure it meets local and state safety codes and standards.
- Know What to Do. If you see an electric shock drowning taking place, turn off the power source, throw a life ring and call 911. Never enter the water; this could also put you at risk.
Keep these other safety tips in mind to help have an accident-free weekend:
- Stay hydrated, take frequent breaks and plan activities during mornings and evenings to avoid dangerous heat.
- Avoid the sun’s most powerful rays occurring from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and wear ample sunscreen to protect skin from sunburn.
- Learn to identify poison ivy and avoid it by wearing protective clothing when in woods or gardens. If exposed, repeatedly wash with water and soap, such as Dawn, as soon as possible.
- Never consume alcoholic beverages when operating a boat, and always wear a personal flotation device. The U.S. Coast Guard reports nearly 90% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.
- Adults should supervise children who are swimming and be familiar with CPR.
- If lightning occurs while outdoors, avoid hilltops, open spaces, metal wires and tall poles. Seek shelter in a building or car as soon as possible.
Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend by following these tips and keeping safety first.