When Minnesotans climb out of our collective winter hibernation into the warmth of summer, we pull out all the stops to enjoy a few months in the sun. Activities like biking around town, grilling at the park, lighting fireworks for Fourth of July and boating on a local lake are what make summer great — but they can also bring safety risks that can end in a trip to the emergency room.
Eden Prairie's fire and police departments provided some summer safety tips to help keep your summer, from the beach to the barbecue, safe and fun.
In 2018, 46 people died in drownings or boating accidents, according to a preliminary report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The Eden Prairie Police Department uses tips from the American Red Cross to stay safe around lakes and pools. Some things to remember are:
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy. Don't swim alone, even at a supervised pool or beach.
- Always have an adult to supervise children near water and teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Even if swimming isn't the plan, be careful while exploring the ocean, rivers or lakes. Strong currents and cold temperatures can make a fall into one of these dangerous.
- Don't drink alcohol and swim. Alcohol affects judgement and balance, which can impair your swimming ability.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket. Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
In 2017, 738 people were injured and six died while biking, according to the most recent data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Bike safety is a shared responsibility between bicyclists and drivers, says an Eden Prairie Police Department blog post. While biking, remember:
- Always wear a helmet.
- Bikers must ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Drivers must keep a 3-foot clearance space when passing a biker.
- Obey all traffic signs and signal turns, just like drivers.
- Bikers and drivers must yield the right of way to each other.
- Bikers must use a headlight and rear reflectors when it's dark.
- Bikers may ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted.
What's better than a brat on the beach? Avoiding fires or explosions while you grill, of course. When grilling, keep in mind:
- Never leave a lit grill unattended.
- Always use a grill outside, away from fire hazards like fences, overhangs, deck railings and plants, and in an area where it won't be knocked over by passersby.
- Establish a 3-foot “grill zone” around the grill and teach children that only adults are allowed there.
- If a fire starts, put the cover on the grill and turn off the heat source, if possible. Smother a grease fire, don't use water.
- Never use gasoline or flammable liquids to light charcoal, and don't add lighter fluid to coals that are already ignited.
- Keep unused charcoal dry because as wet charcoal dries out, it can spontaneously combust.
- Before disposing of charcoal ashes, allow them to cool thoroughly and stir them to make sure they're completely out.
- Check the gas cylinder hose and connections of a propane grill for leaks before using the grill by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose and all connections. Bubbles will quickly reveal any leaks.
In 2016, 709 people were hurt by fireworks, with 66% of injuries occurring to people under 30, according to the most recent data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Sparklers, cones and tubes that emit sparks, and novelty items like party poppers are all legal fireworks in Minnesota, but they must be used on private property, not public land like streets or parks. When using fireworks, remember:
- Always supervise children around fireworks.
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.
- Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Don't wear loose clothing and stand several feet away from lit fireworks.
- If a firework doesn't go off, put it out with water and dispose of it.
- Always read the directions and warning labels. If a label doesn't have a warning label, instructions and a list of contents, don't use it.