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It's spring, when the days get longer and warmer, and people come out to enjoy the weather. I know after a long Chicago winter, my family cannot wait to shed their winter coats and head outdoors.
But when the seasons change, risks change too. The arrival of spring means shifting attention to hazards that re-emerge like new buds on the trees.
Prepare for changing weather
Spring brings changing weather conditions, and thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods can arrive with little warning. Preparation for weather events can be critical for your own safety. By building an emergency kit, developing a response plan for different kinds of severe weather, and gathering necessary health and contact information, you can be prepared for weather that may come in like a lion but doesn't always go out like a lamb.
Driving challenges increase as the thermostat climbs
If you live in colder climates, the changing weather may affect driving conditions. You might encounter cold, wet conditions that leave a thin sheet of ice beneath your tires. And, as the temperature climbs, more people will be out and about. The Governors Highway Safety Association, based on preliminary data, projects a 10% increase in pedestrians killed in traffic crashes for 2015, so be cautious. You need to be ready to share the roads with people on bikes, on scooters and on foot.
Look for winter damage to playground equipment
Improved weather means you also will be spending more time outside, so make certain that any outdoor play areas are safe. Cold weather and heavy snow can damage swing sets and affect the ground beneath them. You'll want to examine the structures to make sure they are in good condition while also confirming that the surfaces beneath them – whether grass, wood chips or rubber mats – will be a safe landing area.
Check outdoor gear
As outdoor recreational equipment starts to get used again, it's the perfect time to make certain your gear is in good working order. Make sure bicycles are tuned up and ready for safe riding. Be sure everyone in the family has a helmet that fits properly and shows no signs of breakage. Similar checks should be done for skateboards and the protective gear worn while riding them.
You may also want to sweep off sidewalks and driveways where skateboards, in-line skates or scooters are used; small stones can cause any of those vehicles to come to a sudden stop.
Taking the time to conduct spring safety checks is a reminder that safety is not only about having good habits, but also about being on the lookout for new risks. If you invest some time to find the hazards, and take steps to address them, you make an injury-free spring far more likely.
Follow @DebbieHersman on Twitter.