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Summer’s Last Hurrah: Tips for a Safe Labour Day Weekend

Sept. 3, 2021
5 mins
A dad paddles a little boat while the son sits up front and tries to fish

Ah, long weekends. There’s nothing like backyard BBQs, taking a meandering road trip, watching some fireworks, or having a bonfire with friends under the stars. It’s hard to believe that these lazy summer days are almost behind us, especially with hot weather still affecting much of the country. But before you know it, you’ll be drinking pumpkin spiced lattes and getting your home ready for autumn. It’s not quite over yet, though. There’s still time for one last summer hurrah — Labour Day weekend!

Hitting the road

Let’s face it. It’s been a weird couple of years. You likely haven’t travelled as much as you would like. And now that summer is ending, a driving trip might sound like a perfect idea. But before heading down the highway, there are a few things to consider.

First, if you’ve been staying home these last few months, chances are good that you haven’t been driving as much. It’s worth getting your vehicle, battery and tires checked before you head out. Don’t forget to pack an emergency kit that contains items such as a flashlight, jumper cables and a tool kit, and make sure your spare tire is roadworthy.

And if you’ve been driving less, you may have updated your car insurance policy to reflect lower mileage. If you’re not sure, talk to your broker before you go to find out if you still have adequate coverage for longer trips.

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Driving between provinces

If you’re planning even a short cross-provincial trip, don’t forget to check your destination province’s latest COVID-19 policies and restrictions. Make sure you bring masks and your vaccine information, if you have it. It’s also a good idea to consider domestic travel insurance. Why should Canadians travelling within the country purchase this when they already have universal health care? It turns out there are gaps in the provincial and territorial health care plans that may leave you having to pay for care out-of-pocket under certain conditions. The small cost of travel insurance is well worth the peace of mind it can bring.

Going camping? Stay safe around fire and water

Getting outside is one of the most popular ways to spend long weekends in Canada. Swimming, boating, and campfires is, for many people, what summer is all about. But there are a few things to remember to make sure everyone is protected.

Water safety:

  • Don’t go swimming alone, at night or in storms
  • Make sure children are always supervised
  • Children who don’t know how to swim should wear life jackets
  • Don’t wade past shallow water if you are a weak swimmer
  • Don’t go swimming or operate a watercraft if you are impaired

Campfire safety:

  • Check with local authorities on open-air burning rules
  • Keep up to date on fire bans in the area
  • Never build a campfire on a windy day
  • Build fires well away from tents, trailers, dry grass, and overhanging branches
  • Never use gasoline as an aid to start a campfire
  • Keep fires to a small, manageable size
  • Never leave fires unattended
  • The safest way to extinguish a campfire is with water (not sand)

Trailers likely require additional insurance

Your camping plans may just be a tent and a few supplies, or you may decide to tow a small trailer or boat behind your vehicle. But there's more to it than simply attaching a hitch and heading on your way. You also need to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage to protect the trailer and your belongings, but to also shield yourself from any liability that may occur if the load you are towing suddenly detaches from your vehicle and damages property or hurts someone.

In general, when a non-motorized trailer is attached to your vehicle, your current auto insurance policy likely covers liability to a degree. But how much coverage you have for the trailer depends on your policy’s details and the province you live in. You’ll likely need separate collision coverage for the trailer itself. If, on the other hand, something happens to the trailer while parked at home, you’re likely covered by your home insurance policy. But check this information carefully, as it can be tricky to navigate. Reach out to your agent or broker if anything is unclear.

Home alone

If you’re leaving your home empty, even for a day or two, there are a few precautions that you can take to make sure your home is secure while you are away.

  • Lock all windows and doors, and don’t hide keys in an obvious place like under a mat
  • Leave lights on outside and inside your house on timers to make it seem like you're home
  • Tell a friend or family member you will be away, but don’t post anything on social media about it until you are back home
  • Make sure you have an up-to-date inventory of your belongings, including appliances, jewelry, computer equipment and musical instruments, and that your contents insurance is up to date.

Staycations done right

Lots of us still prefer to avoid traffic and invite a few friends over for a backyard gathering instead, especially if the weather cooperates. Nothing says “long weekend” like BBQs and fireworks, provided you take a few precautions to keep it safe:

  • Use grills a good distance away from the house
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within reach outside
  • Douse hot coals with water before disposing of them
  • Discharge fireworks well away from buildings and trees
  • Keep onlookers a safe distance away from fireworks
  • Never relight a “dud” firework
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand on hand

By keeping these tips and precautions in mind, your last long weekend of summer is bound to be nothing but fun and relaxing.

Gail Balfour

Gail Balfour is a writer, editor, and senior content designer with more than 20 years’ experience covering areas of business, finance, technology and healthcare. A former editor of ComputerWorld Canada, she has also contributed to many other publications and corporate websites including Backbone, PwC Canada, RBC Canada, Women's College Hospital, Canadian Healthcare Technology and The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

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