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franklin county times

Officials urge holiday safety

Memorial Day has long served as the official start of summer fun, but officials want to caution residents to keep safety in mind over the holiday weekend as well.
Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said Memorial Day weekend is always a popular time for family and friends to gather for a cookout or for a camping trip, but there are several things to keep in mind when choosing one of these activities.
“Having cookouts and campfires can be a great way to spend the holiday weekend, but I just want to urge residents to make sure to remember their fire safety,” Mansell said.
“If you have a campfire, make sure you have water close by in case it gets out of hand. And when it’s time to put the fire out, stir it around and make sure every ember is extinguished before leaving.”
According to the Alabama Forestry Commission, people who live in tornado-damaged areas like Phil Campbell and East Franklin need to be especially careful with any type of outdoor burning this weekend.
Officials with the AFC said the tornados of 2011 left thousands of acres of downed and damaged trees in their wake, creating an ongoing wildfire hazard in much of North Alabama.
According to the AFC, approximately 93 percent (12 million tons) from the estimated 204,590 acres of timber still remains on the ground, and this dry, woody debris can contribute to rapidly spreading fires and erratic fire behavior.
“If you’re going to have a cookout or a campfire going, the best thing is to just stay aware of the situation,” Mansell said. “If it does happen to get out of control, call for help immediately. Do not try to fight the fire yourself.”
Mansell also cautioned those who would be spending their weekend on one of the area’s lakes to keep safety in mind there as well.
“I know many people that will be taking their boats out this weekend, and there are many things to consider when you think about safety on the water,” he said. “Be sure that there is a life jacket available for each person on the boat and keep a fire extinguisher ready in case there is an emergency situation.”
Mansell said that with temperatures reaching into the 90s this weekend, it’s also important to keep water, sunscreen and a hat available in order to prevent a heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses.
“We want this to be a fun weekend for all the families here in the area,” Mansell said. “Just keeping these few safety precautions in mind when we are celebrating and remembering all those who have fought for our country will ensure this will be a good weekend for everyone.”