(CNN)For many Americans, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial summer kickoff. Whether you're celebrating in the backyard or on the water, here's how to have a safe holiday.
Memorial Day means dusting off the grill and enjoying a barbecue or potluck meal. Before you take a bite of that burger or potato salad, keep in mind the following:
Grilling/wire bristles in food: If you are using a wire brush to clean your grill, make sure you thoroughly inspect it for lost bristles that may have become adhered to it. Ingested wire bristles can become lodged in the throat or puncture the digestive tract, risking infection. A 2016 study showed that between 2002 and 2014, there about 1,698 grill brush injuries in emergency departments across the country.
Don't let prepared foods sit out: According to Gabrielle Judd, a registered dietician with the University of Maryland Medical Center, "cookout bugs" can grow when prepared food is left out for more than two hours in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. These spore-producing bacteria can commonly be found in rice, soups, sauces, and leftovers. Keep prepared foods in the refrigerator until it's time to eat.
If you're fortunate enough to own boat (or have a friend who does!), keep in mind these tips before you hit the open waters:
Boating and alcohol don't mix: Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, says he U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division. Alcohol is more hazardous on water than on land because of the environment. The boat's motion, engine noise, sun and wind accelerate a drinker's impairment. Stay hydrated with plenty of non-alcoholic drinks like water, iced tea, fruit juice, and soda.
Wear a life jacket: According to a US Coast Guard's report, where the cause of the death was known in a boating accident, 76% of the victims drowned.
Pool and beach safety
For a lot of folks, Memorial Day means celebrating by relaxing in a backyard pool or hitting the beach. Heed these tips to stay safe in and around water:
- According to the American Red Cross, even if you're a strong swimmer, always swim with a buddy, preferably with lifeguards present
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs before or while swimming, diving, or supervising others swimming
- Understand the unique risks of the water environment you are in. And always enter shallow or unfamiliar water feet first, the American Red Cross says.