With spring break just a day away, many residents are preparing to leave town for the week, if they have not already.
In order to ensure vacations are full of sun, sand and laughter, Forsyth County officials are offering safety tips for residents, whether the itinerary is to travel or stay local.
Deputy Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, and Division Chief Jason Shivers, a fire department representative, urge auto, boat and home safety during the week.
“The big thing for us is to make it look like you’re home,” Rainwater said. “Having lights on timers is key, and if you can have a neighbor pick up your newspaper and mail so it doesn’t look like you are gone, that will help, too.”
Rainwater also said to be mindful of the trash barrel.
“The main giveaway that you’re not home is when your trash container stays at end of driveway,” he said. “Have a friend or neighbor roll your trash barrel to the end of your driveway and back the same day, to make it look like someone is home.”
Ask a good friend or close neighbor to keep watch on your house so that if anyone suspicious drives up, someone will be there to call 911.
When driving, be mindful that you likely have a full car. “Excessive speed should not be a thought process,” Rainwater said. “People get so anxious to get to the destination, that before you know it, you’re going 80-plus and it only takes one tire going flat or one [object] in the road to cause a crash. Troopers are out on spring break in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, and you don’t want half of your vacation budget spent on speeding ticket.”
On Facebook, be mindful that even non-friends can see your posts, unless your settings are private. Keeping on lights and rolling out the trash barrel is no use if strangers can see you posting photos of your family on the beach, Rainwater said.
Take as few credit cards as possible in case they get lost or stolen and do not leave cash or other valuables out in hotel rooms where they can be stolen.
If alcohol is being consumed, have a designated driver or an alternative way of getting home. Don’t get behind the wheel and drive if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is more than .08.
“The biggest thing I can start offering warnings now are about water safety as we approach warm weather,” Shivers said. “Always buddy swim and never swim alone and even if you’re an accomplished swimmer, wear a life preserver. That’s even more important early in the season because the water is still cold.
“In pools and area lakes, the water is going to be quite cold, which causes a substantial shock to the body and can cramp your swimming muscles, even in strong, experienced swimmers.”
Always supervise children in the water.
Be aware of boaters and jet skiers.
If you’re on the river below Buford Dam, always heed the sirens warning of a pending dam release and get off the river. “This time of year, we often experience having to make rescues on the river for someone who failed to heed that warning,” Shivers said. “The water rises much too quickly for you to escape if you’re still out when the dam is released.”
April is the last month of the burn season before the summer burn ban goes into effect, but still exercise caution when grilling or burning leaves or other debris.