Have a happy — and Safe — Labor Day weekend

Although we may all be dodging raindrops — and potential thunderstorms  —throughout the weekend, this Labor Day weekend, it makes sense to pay attention to a few details to keep your long weekend happy and safe.

Whether, like many of us, you plan to stay home and fire up the grill for one last summer weekend, or if you’re hitting the road for one last weekend at the shore, Red Cross offers a handful of safety tips for this weekend.

Hitting the road? Many families see the holiday weekend as their last chance to travel and celebrate the end of the season. Many will hit the road sometime over the three-day holiday weekend. The Red Cross offers these travel tips to help keep you safe on the highway:

  • Find out what disasters may occur where you are traveling and how you would get information in the event of a disaster (local radio systems, emergency alert systems).
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast for your destination.
  • Buckle up, slow down, and don’t drink and drive. Designate a driver who won’t drink.
  • Be well rested and alert; give your full attention to the road.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Observe speed limits.
  • Make frequent stops.
  • Be respectful of other motorists.
  • Clean your vehicle’s lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
  • Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather, and don’t overdrive your headlights.
  • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.
  • Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank get too low.
  • If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

If you do get behind the wheel this weekend, do not do so if impaired, the Pennsylvania State Police warns. Police will be out in force to keep roadways safe.

“As friends and families come together to enjoy the last big holiday of the summer, we ask everyone to celebrate responsibly and plan ahead to get home safely,” said Major James B. Basinger, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. “Troopers have a  zero-tolerance approach toward impaired driving, which is a serious, but completely preventable crime.”

During the 2017 Labor Day holiday enforcement period, troopers made 552 DUI arrests and investigated 90 crashes in which alcohol was a factor. According to PennDOT data, there were more than 3,100 total crashes statewide over the long holiday weekend; 314 of those were alcohol-related that resulted in 11 fatalities.

“Drunk and drugged driving risks the lives of not only drivers and their passengers, but also other motorists, pedestrians, and first responders,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “With the technology and resources available today, there is never an excuse to get behind the wheel while impaired.”

As part of the national impaired driving enforcement mobilization, which runs from August 15 through September 3, Pennsylvania’s DUI task forces, the Pennsylvania State Police, and local law enforcement statewide will also conduct checkpoints and roving patrols as part of the outreach effort.

Penalties for a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania are based on factors including an individual’s criminal history, blood alcohol content (BAC) level, and whether or not there were injuries or property damage occurred. Potential consequences include thousands of dollars in fines, a license suspension, and prison time.

“The smartest, safest thing you can do is get a designated driver or use a ride sharing service,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lubin, division chief, pre-Hospital and transport medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “You’d much rather be in one of those vehicles than one of ours.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed the SaferRide smartphone app as a tool to decrease impaired driving. The app can be used to quickly pinpoint the user’s location and call a taxi or trusted friend for a safe ride home. SaferRide is free and available for Android and Apple devices.

But if off the roads, Red Cross reminds us, there are still safety issues to keep track of, including when you plan that last great cookout of the summer.

Ifyour plans include an old-fashioned barbecue at home. The Red Cross offers these steps you should follow to use that backyard grill safely:

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.


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