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Keep safety in mind this long weekend

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Andrea Bagley
Digital Reporter

Thursday, May 15, 2014, 11:15 AM -

It's often referred to as the "unofficial start of summer" and with the May long weekend upon us, you can bet Canadians are planning to celebrate. 

Whether you're heading to the cottage, a campsite or decide to stay closer to home, officials say it's important to keep some safety items in mind.

OUTDOOR REPORT: The unofficial start of summer

The start of summer driving

This weekend traditionally marks the start of the summer driving season and as a result, police officials say they'll be keeping an eye on major roads and highways.

It's important to make sure that both you and your vehicle are prepared before hitting the road.

There will be a lot more traffic on many roadways so motorists are urged to adjust their driving habits accordingly.

Police say speed is the single most contributing factor to collisions on the roads. As the weather gets nicer, the speed increases as well as the number of collisions that occur.

Boat safety

Officials will be keeping an eye on waterways as well.

There are approximately 125 boating related deaths in Canadian waters every year, almost all of which were senseless accidents that are easily preventable.

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One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the water is still extremely cold at this time of year. Warmer temperatures doesn't necessarily mean warm water and it doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in.

Police officials say water temperatures at this time of year are extremely cold. Hypothermia can set in in minutes and if your body temperature drops by five degrees, you will go unconscious and without a life jacket you're going to sink like a rock, officials warn. 

The Toronto Marine Unit offers these other boat safety tips:

  • Wear a properly fitted lifejacket at all times.
  • Make sure everyone on board knows safety protocols.
  • Have a good fire extinguisher.
  • Don't operate the watercraft with alcohol, leave it onshore.
  • Check the weather before you go and continue to monitor while you're on the water.

If you operate a powered vessel, you do need a pleasure craft operator card. If you're caught without the card, it's a minimum $250 fine.

If you're lighting fireworks, check the forecast first

If you're lighting fireworks, check the forecast first

Setting off fireworks safely

Weather permitting, this will be a busy weekend for fireworks across Canada.

In addition to paying attention to city by-laws and firebans, people should also pay close attention to the weather conditions.

Mark Fine is with Air Magic in Toronto, and he says the forecast is important when it comes to fireworks.

“[They] can be shot when it's cloudy, or cool, or cold, or if there's even a little bit of drizzle in the air. But if the winds are high it will take the projectiles and take them to places we don't want them to go and possibly take burning material somewhere it shouldn't be,” Fine explains.

You should also ensure that conditions are not too dry in your area, as fireworks could spark wildfires.

Here are some tips offered by the National Council on Fireworks Safety to keep you and your family safe:

  • Purchase your fireworks from a reliable source and keep away from illegal explosives.
  • Choose a clear, open area to light them.
  • Always follow the label directions.
  • Fireworks are meant for outdoor environments only.
  • Always have water handy when lighting fireworks (ie: a garden hose) You can also use sand in a bucket if need be to put them out.
  • Never make your own fireworks.
  • Only light one at a time.
  • Never attempt to re-light fireworks that have misfired (duds).
  • Wait 30 minutes and then place them in a bucket of water.
  • Never throw/point fireworks at other people.
  • Don't carry sparklers in your pocket.
  • The shooter should always wear protective eye glasses or protection for their hands.

Outdoor Report: The unofficial start of summer
Thinking of a road trip for the May Long weekend?
Long weekend forecast: Below-seasonal temperatures for parts of Canada

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