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Have a smart, safe Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend is kicking into gear, and whether you’re staying local or traveling like many others, it’s important to stay safe and smart so you can enjoy your festivities without hassle or harm.

Suffolk Police, Suffolk Fire & Rescue and AAA Tidewater Virginia have tips for staying safe this extended holiday weekend.

It starts with protecting your valuables. According a city press release, valuables such as GPS devices, laptops, iPods, purses, wallets and money should not be left in vehicles — whether parked at the beach, in front of your home or at a local gas station. Vehicles should be locked to avoid theft.

If you’re staying at a hotel for the weekend, leave your valuables in your hotel room safe under lock and key, but never forget to carry a form of identification.

The press release also recommended password-protecting cellphones and avoid using ATMs after dark — use an indoor machine at a store if need be, but not ones located on city streets. Don’t carry large sums of cash, either.

Don’t take late night walks alone, and anyone walking at night should be alert and undistracted by cellphones and music devices.

Those grilling this Memorial Day should always supervise their grills when they’re in use and make sure that these grills are out in the open and away from the house and other flammable things, including tree benches and the deck.

According to the city press release, never add charcoal starter when the coals have already been ignited, and be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if things get out of hand.

Police and Fire & Rescue also have advice for swimmers. Only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards, and always swim with a buddy. Homeowners are also encouraged to install barriers to their pools or hot tubs to prevent unwanted access.

Maintain constant supervision and have appropriate rescue equipment on hand, including a phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.

Drivers will also need to maintain constant supervision and awareness this holiday weekend. Avoid distractions like cell phones while driving, leave ample room behind other vehicles on the roadway and use caution in work zones.

Suffolk Police will have extra patrols on the roadways to deter impaired driving and keep the roads safe this long weekend.

“With many people traveling over the holiday weekend, it’s more important than ever to drive safely,” according to the city press release. “People should be well rested and alert, use their seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. If anyone plans on drinking alcohol, they should designate a driver who won’t be drinking.”

According to AAA Tidewater Virginia, there will be nearly one million drivers on the road this Memorial Day.

Nearly 1.2 million people will be traveling to celebrate Memorial Day weekend with family and friends this year, according to AAA Tidewater Virginia. It will be the second highest recorded travel volume since AAA began recording in 2000, and close to one million people are choosing the road to get to their destinations.

In collaboration with AAA, INRIX predicted that drivers would experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday and Friday. This will be even worse late Friday afternoon, when commuters that leave work early mix with the other holiday travelers, according to press release.

Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while drivers in Washington D.C. and New York could see triple the delay.

“With so many people using the roads this long holiday weekend, it is important to stay safe and arrive at your destination alive,” AAA Tidewater Virginia spokeswoman Georjeane Blumling stated in the press release. “Distracted drivers increase the risk on the road for themselves and others around them. If you see your driver getting distracted, say something.”