It’s hard to believe that Memorial Day is already behind us. For many it marks a day off from school or work and the unofficial start to summer. But, let’s not lose sight of the real meaning of Memorial Day. A national day of remembrance, Memorial Day is a day to honor and pay tribute to those brave men and women of our armed forces who died in service to our nation. These service personnel made the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect our shores and preserve our freedom. Theirs is a debt we will never be able to repay. It is thanks to the dedication of these fine men and women in uniform that we, as residents of the greatest nation on Earth, are able to enjoy the quality of life we cherish so dearly.
Please join me in also saying thank you to today’s veterans, as well as those who currently serve, for their sacrifice and commitment. You and your families give back to our nation in a way that few others can understand unless they have been through it themselves. To those men and women serving in the United States’ armed forces around the globe, please know that you are in our thoughts every day and we pray for your safe return home.
Memorial Day weekend has also become a time to spend with family and friends. If the weather proves agreeable, many will use the long weekend to break out the barbecue grills, open swimming pools, and head outside to enjoy their favorite recreational activities.
If you’re using the barbecue grill for the first time this season, check to make sure it’s in good working order. Look for cracked hoses, brittleness, or leaks, and make sure mice haven’t nested in it over the winter. If you use charcoal, never use gasoline or kerosene to start your coals, and use lighter fluid with caution. Be sure to keep a spray bottle, hose, or fire extinguisher close by, and no matter how bad the weather may be, never bring your grill, of any kind, into the house, garage, or even onto the porch. A good rule of thumb is to keep the grill 10 feet away from all structures.
It’s also critically important to practice good swimming pool safety procedures. Sadly, according to the CDC, drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years. To avoid tragedy, proper precautions should be taken. Back yard pools should be fenced appropriately and gates locked when the pool is not in use. New York State law also requires a pool alarm. Swimmers should use the buddy system when swimming and make sure that children have responsible adult supervision at all times. If you’ve got a small wading pool, be sure to empty it when it’s not being used. In the event of a thunderstorm, get everyone out of the pool.
Thunderstorms can put on a great show, but they can also be deadly. If you’re planning on a day outdoors, be sure to check the forecast and plan the day accordingly. Should you find yourself outside with a storm threatening, seek shelter if possible. If not, stay low and keep away from trees, tall objects, metal objects, and water. Boaters should head to shore as soon as possible. If you begin to feel your hair stand on end, this indicates lightning is about to strike; drop to your knees and bend forward placing your hands on your knees and crouch down. Do not lie flat on the ground, as this will make you a larger target.
Lastly, if you are looking for some new places to explore this summer, I encourage you to check out two great Orange County websites – www.orangecountynyparks.com and www.orangetourism.org.
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.