Summertime is well earned around here. Winter is far in the rear-view mirror. No more snow, for a while. It’s a fact is worth celebrating. Right now, it is hot outside. Real hot. And Fourth of July is coming up, so why not have some fun?
Before packing the gear and family for that ride to the beach, hitching up the boat and jet skis or grabbing those leftover fireworks from last year, make sure everyone is on board when it comes to safety.
There might be a collective groan out there upon hearing the word, “safety.” It might even evoke images of grade-school gatherings in the cafeteria to watch some ancient movie on the subject featuring a dull, droll voiceover. But it’s serious. Every year, people get injured or worse. And most of these tragedies are preventable.
There are too many examples, the most recent occurring in Broderick Park, where two men’s bodies were pulled from the Niagara River on Buffalo’s West Side. They went in at Broderick Park where red letters on a warning sign near where they drowned have worn off, but fishermen say they know not to go in.
The men have been identified by police as Mario Guthrie, 29, and Scott Vater, 46, both of Buffalo. They were pulled out of the water about an hour after police were called to the foot of West Ferry Street at 4:37 p.m. Monday. The News reported witness accounts that at least one of the men was trying to recover a piece of driftwood in the water. The other man was trying to help the first man.
Boating, too, requires caution and, like swimming in a region blessed with an abundance of water, it carries potential hazards.
Back in May, a tragic boat accident cost the life of longtime Lancaster Middle School science teacher Eric Przykuta. The 43-year-old was one of three men in a fishing boat that struck the breakwater near the Small Boat Harbor late in the day. Coast Guard officials said Przykuta was not wearing a life jacket.
On land, Independence Day risks also bear close attention.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issues regular warnings when it comes to fireworks. The agency cited in a news release that eight fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2017, with victims ranging in age from 4 to 57.
Last year produced as estimated 12,900 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries. Approximately 67 percent of them occurred during the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday, between June 16, 2017 and July 16, 2017. During this one-month period, sparklers were the No. 1 cause of injuries, accounting for 14 percent of the estimated injuries.
The safety commission advises consumers to make sure fireworks are legal in the area before purchasing them or using them. Also, never use or make professional-grade fireworks; do not buy or use fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, since this is often a sign of the fireworks remade for professional displays and not for consumer use. And never, ever allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.
The list of recommendations from the safety commission and others when it comes to summertime activity from swimming to boating to jet skiing to kayaking to fireworks is available online at the U.S. Coast Guard’s boating safety website. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website offers reminders and tips on fireworks.
It’s finally summer. Time to have fun but don’t ruin the party by ignoring safety rules.