Traditionally, Labor Day is the last holiday of summer. Most people want to make the most of this holiday before settling down to a school year routine. While there are the people who stay home and prepare for the home-comers, there are the millions on the nation’s highways traveling to these homes. There was a near 16 percent increase in traffic fatalities across the nation last Labor day(2011).
Twenty-five percent of drowning deaths nationwide happen in water three feet deep or less. According to Safe Kids USA, “Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years and children 10 to 14 years. For infants less than 1 year, drowning is the third leading cause of death.
The fatal risks of Labor Day in the North Georgia Mountains are the same as those of the nation, with some increases of risk due to winding mountain roads, river rafting activities and a much higher population as a tourist destination. Blairsville is home to beautiful rivers, lakes, creeks and waterfalls that people frequent during holidays. Major risks include:
- Fatal automobile accidents
- Fatal boating accidents
- Food poisoning
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 200 diseases spread through food. Seventy-six million food-borne illnesses result in 5,000 deaths in the US each year. Salmonella can spread through entire families, church groups and other parties from something as simple as leaving the potato salad out of the cooler too long.
Avoid the risk factors for a safer holiday:
- Have two drivers for driving long distances. One driver can nap while the other is driving. By the time a person realizes he is drowsy, it is too late to do anything about it. The mind can not be convinced there is an impairment and something should be done about it.
- Teach children how to be defensive drivers by asking them to watch for unsafe activity by other drivers. Children can notify adults of possible accident events before they happen. Back seat passengers are in position to notice vehicles attempting to change lanes when it is unsafe to do so.
- Never drink and drive. It is possible to get a DUI while driving a boat.
- Always wear a safety jacket or life-vest. Make sure each child wears a vest that is properly fitted.
- Whether cooking indoors or out, have a water source and soap to wash hands thoroughly after handling meat. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Leaving food on the table – inside or out – is an opportunity for salmonella and other bacteria to grow. If there is any doubt, would you risk your life for a serving of potato salad?
* When two drivers is not possible, pull over to rest frequently. The warm sun can easily tempt tired eyes to close.
Staying safe is a matter of taking care of yourself naturally. Don’t take risks. Play it safe. Anyone can have fun and still use a little common sense. If a person can not swim, he should not expect the water to be completely safe just because it appears to be shallow. There are dips, fast currents and huge rocks in mountain streams and rivers.