Local fire official offers safety tips for Memorial Day weekend

A local firefighter is encouraging residents to play it smart and safe this Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day is the gateway to summer, and with it come barbecues, tanning, swimming and more fun. However, not doing these activities safely can zap the fun out of summer and put people at risk.

Here are some things to keep in mind to stay safe as people venture outdoors this weekend and beyond.

There are several steps people can take to grill safely, according to this graphic by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Fire Administration. Submitted graphic

Grilling out

A lot of people will be grilling out on Memorial Day, so people should make sure to inspect their grills before they cook anything. It could be the first time someone has pulled out their grill since last year, so they should inspect it to make sure it’s clear of grease, has a full propane tank and that the tank’s hoses are in good condition, said Mike Pruitt, deputy chief of the Bargersville Community Fire Department.

Where the grill is located is also important. Grills should not used on an enclosed porch or a balcony, he said.

“We tend to find ourselves getting in trouble if a fire breaks out, in either case, because now it’s happening in an enclosed area and that fire can spread rapidly,” Pruitt said.

Children and animals should also be kept away from the grill. Cooks should also make sure the food is prepared correctly, which includes making sure burgers and hot dogs are fully cooked and washing their hands to prevent germs, Pruitt said.


Regardless of the outdoor activity, people should make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water.

They should also make sure to wear good sunscreen with high SPF, especially if they are going to be out in the sun all day at an event like the Indianapolis 500, Pruitt said.

When alcohol is served at parties, people should make sure guests have a safe way home, he said.

“Make sure that you have a responsible plan because if someone gets injured and you’re hosting a party, you could be held liable for their injuries because you allowed them to drink irresponsibly at your at your place,” Pruitt said.

People float down the lazy river at Freedom Springs Aquatic Park on June 8, 2023, in Greenwood. Daily Journal File Photo

Accountability doesn’t just matter when it comes to alcohol, it also matters when it comes to water safety. Whether boating or going to a pool or lake, every year accidents involving alcohol happen and people die, Pruitt said.

If having a large pool party, hosts should keep an eye on everyone. If on a boat, make sure flotation devices are ready and phones are charged so if there is an emergency, people can be called quickly, he said.

Public pools have lifeguards but can be very crowded at times, so parents and guardians should keep a close eye on kids to make sure they’re doing OK, he said.

Regardless of the type of waterway, whether it’s a lake or a pool, people should always have a swim buddy, Pruitt said.


Another way to stay safe is to monitor forecasts so people know what protection they may need.

If out in the open or when at an outdoor party or festival, people should make sure they have proper shelter if bad weather does come in, Pruitt said.

When the weather is very hot, people should also prepare to avoid things like dehydration, heat cramps, heat stroke, heat exhaustion and more, Pruitt said.

People should also take time to check on seniors to make sure they’re staying cool and that their air conditioning is working. Sometimes they don’t want to reach out and ask for help when something is wrong, he said.

“Check on them and make sure they’re OK,” Pruitt said. “Whether they’re family, neighbors, friends, whatever the case, give them a check.”

Those concerned about how hot and humid conditions could impact them also have a new way to see the risks.

The National Weather Service has launched a new online tool called Heat Risk. It is an experimental color-numeric-based index that provides a forecast of heat-related impacts to occur over a 24-hour period within a seven-day range, according to the weather service.

The National Weather Service’s Heat Risk forecast for Memorial Day in Indiana. Submitted graphic

There are five categories on the risk tool:

  • Little/none (Level 0/green) — Little to no risk from expected heat.
  • Minor (Level 1/yellow) — Primarily affects individuals extremely sensitive to heat, especially when outdoors without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration.
  • Moderate (Level 2/orange) — Affects most individuals sensitive to heat, especially those without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration. Impacts possible in some health systems and in heat-sensitive industries.
  • Major (Level 3/red) — Affects anyone without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration. Impacts likely in some health systems, heat-sensitive industries and infrastructure.
  • Extreme (Level 4/magenta) — Rare and/or long-duration extreme heat with little to no overnight relief. Affects anyone without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration. Impacts likely in most health systems, heat-sensitive industries and infrastructure.

Factors the tool takes into consideration include how unusual the heat is for the time of year; duration of the heat, including both daytime and nighttime temperatures; and if temperatures pose an elevated risk of heat-related impacts based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Users can also see the heat risk for the whole country on a national map, or zoom in and click to see an area-specific forecast. For example, Johnson County is forecasted to be in the minor category this weekend.

To access the tool, go to wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/heatrisk/.