If you are taking a road trip this holiday weekend make sure to plan ahead: check our traffic page for updates, and use the following tips to also avoid car breakdowns and state park closures. Also check our fireworks page to see if your town’s celebration has been postponed due to expected bad weather.
During the long weekend, which begins Wednesday, July 2 and runs through Sunday, July 6, AAA expects 2.1 million New Englanders to travel at least 50 miles. This is a 2.5 percent increase from 2013, and would be a record for the highest regional travel volume. Of those travelers, 86 percent will drive to their destination. These projections are based on forecasting and research from IHS Global Insight.
So what are some things to keep in mind? First, plan on spending more money than last Independence Day. Hotel rates are expected to rise from last year nine to 15 percent, according to AAA. Also, not only does Connecticut have the sixth most expensive gas prices in the United States, but the average price per gallon is expected to be $3.98–a 21 cent increase over last year and the most expensive for a July Fourth since 2008.
Temperature can greatly impact how far cars—especially electric ones—can travel. AAA research shows that an electric car that can drive 105 miles in 75 degree weather can only drive 69 miles in 95 degree—a 33 percent reduction. To protect your car ensure proper tire pressure, keep your car in a garage or in the shade, and cool the interior while the vehicle is plugged in to reduce the drain on the battery.
Here is a map of electric vehicle charging stations throughout Connecticut and the surrounding area to plan your route accordingly: https://data.ct.gov/Transportation/Map-of-Electric-Vehicle-Charging-Stations/d2yg-9hwe.
Lastly, check in with your final destination before heading out. Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) says to expect state parks to reach parking capacity early in the day.
The state parks’ Twitter account, @CTDEPoutdoorrec, provides information about all state parks, outdoor recreation, and park closures. Parks with swimming areas often reach full parking capacity early on. Some parks that often close include Squantz Pond in New Fairfield; Rocky Neck in East Lyme; Pattaconk in Chester; Wadsworth Falls in Middlefield; Sleeping Giant in Hamden; Millers Pond in Durham; and Kent Falls in Kent.
DEEP says a good alternative if your original destination doesn’t look like it will work out is Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. There is ample parking and the park rarely closes. Look into activities at the park on Twitter @CTHammonasset.
Here’s some safety tips from the Connecticut State Police:
Parents should be extremely vigilant whenever their children are near water. If a child is missing be sure to check pools and spas immediately. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths for children aged 14 and younger in the United States. A child can drown within seconds of going underwater, even in just one inch of water, often without any sounds or warning.
Never leave their children unattended in a closed or locked motor vehicle. Parents, guardians, day care providers and babysitters should be educated about the dangers involved in leaving children in cars. Children are sometimes supervised less during the more relaxed summer months and may want to play in unlocked cars or trunks. Children should never be left in a locked car or should never have access to play in unlocked, parked vehicles or trunks. Under Connecticut law, leaving a child unsupervised in a motor vehicle could result in a felony charge.
During summer weather, temperatures inside of a car can rise into the triple digits in just a matter of minutes. Studies on thermal injury to children show that “dry heat” temperatures, within a closed vehicle, can become dangerous to small children and infants in only minutes. A high level of humidity can reduce that time by one half.
Body temperature in children increases three to five times faster than that of an adult, leaving them more vulnerable when left unattended or trapped inside a motor vehicle. Even temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit can become dangerously high in an enclosed auto within minutes and can cause heatstroke or death.
Wear a helmet for many activities. Adults and children should put on a helmet before getting on a bike, a scooter, a skateboard a dirt bike or a motorcycle.
Since elderly are especially susceptible to the high heat and humidity, make it a point to check on older neighbors and parents. Ensure that they are drinking plenty of water and staying out of the heat during peak temperature hours.
- Never leave children (even those who can swim) unattended in, around or near pools or other water sources – not even for a few moments. A child can drown in the moment it takes to answer a phone.
- Never swim alone. Use the buddy system and maintain eye contact.
- Keep pool area locked and secure when not in use.
- Swim only in supervised and approved areas.
- Keep rescue equipment near the pool. Have emergency flotation devices and a phone near the pool.
- Enroll children in swim lessons.
- Enforce water safety rules. No running, pushing or dunking.
- Never falsely claim to need help in the water.
- Take all toys out of the pool when not swimming so that children will not be tempted to go after the toys.
- Learn CPR and water rescue techniques.
- Have a professional inspect all entrapment hazards in the pool, including the pump and drain.
- Know and mark the location of the electrical cut-off switch for the pool pump.