Fire Dept. offers tips for safe Memorial Day

LAWRENCEVILLE - Drownings are more common to placid backyard pools than pummeling rapids or deep, murky waters.

Those lumps of fat buildup on that old charcoal grill can be ignited, in some instances, like sulfur.

And when applying sunscreen, you'd be unwise to forget that tender and oft-neglected territory that is the tops of your ears.

No, this isn't Baywatch 101. It's summer safety, a la the Gwinnett County Fire Department handbook.

Memorial Day Weekend serves as a de facto grand opening to the season of barbecue, brouhaha and lazy poolside lounging. But buckets of sunshine and an abundance of watering holes around Gwinnett contribute to myriad hazards particular to summertime.

Especially when it comes to swimming.

Summer is "a time when emergency responders observe a significant increase in water-related emergencies," said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge. "Just because a person can swim doesn't mean they're safe near the water."

In light of the long weekend, the Fire Department highlighted a laundry list of tips and factoids that could come in handy over the sweltering season.

A few simple rules, said Rutledge, can spell the difference between safety and tragedy. The National Fire Council says most of the nation's 3,000 drowning deaths each year involve children age four and under.

Here's some tips to abide by:

· Place barriers such as fences or locked gates around swimming pools.

· Never let children go unwatched near any body of water.

· Don't just glance at swimming pool rules - read them.

· Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other life-saving techniques.

· If a child goes missing, always check the pool first.

Rutledge said the majority of drowning incidents occur in backyard, neighborhood and apartment complex pools.

But summertime hazards don't end at the pool's edge, Rutledge said. For instance, did you know:

· That, when treating sunburn, you should avoid products with benzocaine, lidocaine or petroleum?

· That most doctors recommend a sunscreen containing SPF 30 or greater?

· That gas grills pose a greater fire risk than their charcoal cousins? (Leaks and breaks in gas-related parts are the difference).

Rutledge said it's important to know that firing up a grill - that quintessential summertime activity - violates Gwinnett County fire code when done on balconies of apartment complexes.