From picnics to pool parties and beach barbecues, outdoor celebrations are an integral part of Canadian summers at the cottage. Having fun at the cottage doesn’t mean only having incredible parties, but making sure your party doesn’t end with damage to your summer retreat—or worse, an injury to you or one of your guests.
So celebrate the summer, celebrate your time at the cottage, but celebrate it safely by following these tips:
Be a good host
As a host, you should always keep the safety of your guests at the top of mind when you’re planning your next cottage blow out. It’s not only the right thing to do by your guests; it’s the right thing to do for yourself, as hosts can be held liable if guests are injured at your cottage or become involved in a crash after consuming alcohol at your gathering.
- Give your guests options. When hosting a party, offer plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and serve food to help slow the absorption of alcohol. Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is over and never pressure others to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty.
- Be alert. When entertaining your guests, drink in moderation. It will be much easier to determine whether or not a guest is able to drive if you are sober.
- Don’t drink and drive. If you or your guests will be drinking, arrange a ride with a sober driver, call a cab or insist the guest sleeps at your cottage. According to MADD Canada, on average, four Canadians are killed and 190 are inured in impaired driving crashes every single day. Data from the Government of Canada also reveals that automobile crashes are often more severe in rural areas of the country, and that summer is the deadliest season on our roads.
- Spot an impaired driver? Call 911. If you spot a driver on the road or the water that you suspect is impaired maintain a safe distance and don’t attempt to pass them. After pulling over safely, call 911 and alert the police. Give them as much information as possible. Take note of the licence plate number, make, model and colour of vehicle, and the direction the vehicle is travelling.
Fun with fireworks
Fireworks are often a big part of celebrations at the cottage, especially when Canada Day weekend rolls around. Fireworks can add a real kick to your party, but before you incorporate them into your celebration, you’ll need to make sure your fireworks displays are safe:
- Check with your local municipality. Municipalities have different by-laws regarding the use of fireworks—so check with the local police or fire department about the rules regarding discharging fireworks in your area.
- Read the instructions. Each firework device has different cautions, warnings, and instructions. Make sure you read each package.
- Check the wind direction. Set up for your fireworks display so the wind is blowing away from spectators, buildings and trees.
- Keep back. Spectators should be at least eight metres away from the fireworks display. Ensure all children are supervised.
- Set up intelligently. Fireworks should only be lit outdoors, in an open space away from trees. You should also always light them on a hard, level surface.
- Be prepared. Have a bucket of sand, supply of water, and a fire extinguisher readily available.
- Sparkle safely. Sparklers may seem like harmless fun, but they can reach temperatures of 650C. They also remain very hot after burning, so once done, they should be immersed in a bucket of sand or water.
- Stay age appropriate. Only adults should handle and light fireworks. Children 10 to 14 years of age sustain 42 percent of the injuries associated with fireworks.
- One at a time. Be sure to light fireworks one at a time, and leave special effects to professionals.
- Don’t relight. If a firework is defective, don’t attempt to relight it.