Many New Yorkers could use a summer vacation right about now. Unfortunately, the changing number of COVID-19 cases across the country has many people thinking twice. With safety concerns and travel restrictions, family vacations this summer may just be ‘staycations’ or at least ‘stay close-to-home’ vacations.
Staycations may be more popular this summer because travelers from four more states will now have to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that people entering (or returning) to New York from Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin are now subject to the quarantine policy. New York first began requiring quarantines in June for travelers from a number of states where the coronavirus is still spreading rapidly.
The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) is reminding residents to practice safety on a ‘staycation’ by taking some extra precautions to prevent fires, injuries and exposure to COVID-19.
“We understand people have been cooped up for several months and many need to take a break to benefit their mental health,” said Steve Klein, President, Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, “Whether your family decides to rent a home or cabin, set up camp at a local site or make your backyard an oasis, safe practices are paramount.”
Renting a Home
“If you decide to rent a home or cabin to enjoy New York’s beautiful lakes or mountains, families need to make sure there are working smoke detectors and CO2 alarms throughout the house,” said Klein.
According to a 2019 study by the NFPA, three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or smoke alarms that weren’t working (17%). In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than two of every five (43%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.
“Checking that your vacation spot has working CO2 alarms and smoke detectors is a simple step that can prevent a tragedy,” said Klein.
Further, families may be unfamiliar with the layout of a vacation rental property and may not know the best way to exit in an emergency. Once a smoke detector sounds, there may be less than two minutes to get out safely. Practicing an escape plan will ensure that each person is as prepared as possible. Since most fatal fires happen between midnight and 8AM, it is important to be prepared before the emergency occurs.
“New York State has many camping areas to enjoy,” said Klein, “but if families decide to camp they should remember to keep fire safety as a priority.”
Camping is an exciting summer pastime. Before building any outdoor fires, time should be taken to learn how to build one safely, how to control it and how to extinguish it properly. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDAFS), four out of five forest fires are started by people. Campers should always check with park rangers and local officials to see if campfires are permitted, especially during the summer when vegetation is dry.
Backyard Staycation and BBQ Safety
A backyard BBQ is a great way to spend time with family and make a delicious meal. All families should make sure they are BBQing safely during the summer months.
“A BBQ is a great way to cook for the family,” said Klein. “Yet, people must exercise caution and keep the grill well away from structures and where people are playing or walking.”
According to the NFPA, children under five accounted for an average of 39% of the contact-type burns per year. These burns typically occurred when a child bumped into, touched or fell on the grill or hot coals. Grills should be kept in open areas and be cleaned to prevent grease fires.
Swimming pools are perfect for cooling off in the summer sun. Even though they are fun for the whole family, it only takes a moment for a child (or adult who cannot swim) to drown. All people with pools should make water safety a priority.
“In the time it takes to reply to a text or turn off the oven, a child can fall into a pool and drown,” said Klein. “All pools should have appropriate barriers to keep children out when adults are not around. When the pool is in use, an adult should be designated to watch in case something goes wrong.”
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission states that drownings are the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years old. Residential locations made up 71 percent of the reported fatal drowning incidents.
Children should never be left unattended near water and proper fencing should be installed to prevent an accident. When playing in or near a pool, someone should always be watching vigilantly. It only takes a moment.
So whether it’s a staycation in your own backyard, or a ‘stay close-to-home’ vacation, FASNY reminds residents to wear a mask in accordance with the Governor’s executive order, adhere to social distancing protocols and check on local regulations if you are going into a new region.
“On behalf of all of FASNY, we wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe summer,” said Klein.