Staying Safe from the Dangers of Summer After Memorial Day
Memorial Day is generally recognized as the official start of the summer season. It’s the time of year when long, summer weekends begin and kids anxiously anticipate the end of the school year.
The months after Memorial Day can be packed with activities and travel. Summer months also have more occurrences of certain types of personal injury accidents, such as car accidents, drunk driving accidents, swimming pool accidents, and dog bites.
Higher Risk of Car Accidents
The risk of being involved in a car accident dramatically goes up during the summer months. Statistics compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that, in 2013, the five months between June and October had the highest number of motor vehicle crash deaths. August topped the list as the most dangerous month for car accident fatalities.
A significant portion of the increased risk comes from the fact that children are out of school, and parents often use summer as an opportunity to take some much-needed time off. More motorists are on the road traveling to and from summer vacation destinations. There is also an increase in the number of teen drivers after school lets out.
Increased Drunk Driving Hazards on Holiday Weekends
Many people consume alcoholic beverages while relaxing on vacation and enjoying long holiday weekends with friends and family. This significantly increases the risk of drunk drivers and alcohol-related accidents.
- Over the 2013 Fourth of July weekend, 540 people were killed and another 58,000 suffered serious injuries in alcohol-related car accidents, making July 4 the most dangerous holiday for travelers, according to the National Safety Council.
- Data from the NHTSA revealed that, between the years of 2007 and 2011, alcohol was a contributing factor in 61 vehicle fatalities each day over the Fourth of July weekend. This is more than the number of traffic fatalities during any other major holiday.
- On Memorial Day weekend 2013, 407 people lost their lives.
- Memorial Day weekend generally has 13.1 percent more traffic-related fatalities than other non-holiday weekends.
- A study on holiday fatalities revealed that the Monday when Memorial Day is officially observed has 32 percent more fatalities than the previous three days as families return from the long holiday weekend.
Danger of Boaters Boating Under the Influence
During the summer months, many people head to local lakes and beaches to go swimming, water-skiing, and boating. While water-based activities may seem like ideal summer fun, lake-goers face the real danger of some people are operating a boat under the influence of alcohol.
Under the Georgia Boat Safety Act, boating under the influence (BUI) of alcohol or drugs is a violation of law. Despite the law, some people indulge in alcoholic beverages while relaxing on their boats during the warm summer months, and then operating the watercraft. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics report attributes 560 fatalities, 2,620 injuries, and close to $39 million dollars in property damage to boating accidents. One of the primary contributing factors in boating accidents was alcohol consumption, which was responsible for 236 boating accidents, 75 deaths, and 187 injuries.
Potential for More Swimming Pool Drowning Accidents
Georgia ranked third among states in the number of pool-related drownings involving children under 15 years old between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2014, with 13 swimming pool fatalities, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Nationwide, at least 174 children under the age of 15 drowned in swimming pools or spas between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2014, according to PoolSafely.gov. Of these drowning victims, 112 were under the age of five.
PoolSafely.gov states that between 40 and 70 percent of all children are unable to swim. Not knowing how to swim or float dramatically increases the chances of a child becoming a drowning victim. Unrestricted access to pools due to faulty gates, broken fences, or other means of access also contributes to swimming pool drowning accidents and may be grounds for a premises liability lawsuit.
Increased Number of Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
Many people spend more time outside during summer months and the number of dog bites and animal attacks increases. Another danger people are likely to face over the summer after Memorial Day is an animal attack or dog bite.
Dog bites are the second leading cause of emergency room visits by children. According to the Centers for Control and Prevention, about half of all children under the age of 13 have been bitten by a dog. Around 79 percent of fatal dog attacks involve children and more than 80 percent of these occur when a child is left unsupervised with a dog, or wanders off to a dog’s location.
Large parties, lots of people on a dog’s territory, and fireworks on the Fourth of July can all excite a dog and make the animal uncharacteristically aggressive.
Summer Tips to Help Keep You and Your Family Safe
If you want to minimize the risk of injuries during the summer months, the following tips can help keep you and your family safe:
- Make sure you and all passengers wear your seat belts at all times while driving.
- Avoid any type of driver distraction, especially talking on a cell phone or texting while driving.
- Never get behind the wheel, or allow anyone else to get behind the wheel, of a motor vehicle, boat, or personal watercraft after consuming alcohol.
- Designate a sober driver if you intend to consume alcohol and will require a ride home or to another designation afterwards.
- Plan summer parties at your own house, to minimize your risk of drinking and driving. You can also arrange to have a sober party or designate drivers to help your guests out as well.
- Require all passengers to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating.
- Prohibit alcohol consumption when boating or designate a sober individual as driver.
- Teach your children how to swim.
- Even in cases where a lifeguard is present, you should designate an individual to keep a watchful eye on children at all times around water.
- Teach children to stay away from drains, drain covers, and other objects which could cause them to get stuck underwater and drown.
- Prohibit running or horseplay around the pool.
- Keep animals on a leash when out walking, going to the park, or attending any summertime activities.
- Do not allow your children to pet any dog without your permission and the owner’s permission, and even then, require it be done in a calm manner.
- If you observe a dog or other animal exhibiting signs of stress, do not attempt to approach the animal, allow its owner to handle it.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 2013 Crash Overview
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: General statistics: Yearly snapshot 2013: When they died
- Georgia Department of Natural Resources: Wildlife Resources Division: Unlawful And Dangerous Operation: Alcohol And Drugs
- United States Coast Guard: 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics
- gov: End of Summer Snapshot: At Least 174 Child Drownings This Summer in Swimming Pools and Spas
- For Kids’ Sake: Safety Around Dogs: Dog Bite Statistics
- CDC: Ten Leading Causes of Death and Injury