Summer Safety: Memorial Day Weekend

Sheriff Matt Gentry (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Going into Memorial Day Weekend, many people have plans to travel and celebrate with friends and family. However, it’s important to make sure that celebrations are carried out safely. After a year of being confined indoors, the last thing anyone would want is to be hospitalized due to reckless behavior while outside. To make sure Cullman residents know what to keep in mind, The Tribune asked Sheriff Matt Gentry and Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper for some ways people can keep themselves and their loved ones safe. 

Both Gentry and Culpepper stated that the highest priority was to be aware of traffic while traveling. “Any time there’s a high volume of cars on the road, when you’ve got a lot of people all traveling at the same time, the risk of traffic accidents goes up. That’s pretty much the main thing we deal with around this time of year,” said Gentry. Culpepper expressed similar thoughts, saying, “We see a spike in traffic accidents on holidays like this. You’ve got a lot more cars on the road, people are distracted while they’re driving or they’re under the influence, and people have been cooped up this past year so they’re eager to get out.” To help reduce the number of traffic accidents over the weekend, the two have asked the public to do the following: 

  • Do not drive while under the influence, and make sure to have a designated driver if you plan to drink excessively. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings on the road. Do not use your phone behind the wheel and be vigilant of other drivers. 
  • Keep speed limits in mind. Speeding increases the likelihood of crashes, and a higher volume of cars on the roads makes the danger more pervasive. 

The above instructions apply to boating as well. Safety on the water includes not boating while distracted or under the influence, boating at a reasonable speed and ensuring all passengers are wearing appropriate floatation equipment. 

Culpepper also said that another important aspect of celebrating safely is being aware of safety risks at home celebrations. “You’ve got people out grilling, people opening up backyard pools, family members coming over and crowding the place. We see a lot of incidents from children running around the yard and getting hurt, falling into pools unsupervised, folks getting burned at the grill. Just be sure to take precautions when you have people over,” he said. Gentry also advised to be aware of household safety, saying that more family members in one place generally increases the number of domestic disturbance calls the Sheriff’s Office responds to. 

As a few parting notes, Gentry stated, “Memorial Day is a time to be with family and remember all those who have served to keep our country safe. Make sure when you celebrate, you celebrate safely and honorably.” Culpepper wished everyone a pleasant Memorial Day and asked everyone to “use common sense.” 

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Heather Mann