With the weather warming up and Memorial Day weekend approaching, people will be spending more time outside and engaging in activities that can threaten life, limb and property. A major concern for Marines, sailors and their families is the possibility of drowning, particularly since nearly all Marine Corps and Navy installations are located along the water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 3,391 people in the United States died from drowning in 2013. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 and the second most common cause of accidental death for children ages 5-14 (motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death in that age group).
In many cases, however, drowning is preventable. Marine Corps Community Services offers swim lessons at the 50m pool throughout the summer. Joey Miranda, director of Youth Programs, said that registration for lessons opens on June 6 at the 50M pool, and the first session begins June 16. There will be parent/child, preschool, youth and adult lessons, and classes will run through Aug. 6. Miranda said the instructors follow the American Red Cross Learn to Swim curriculum.
Grilling is another popular summer activity that can sometimes end badly.
Steve Houchin, assistant chief of fire prevention for Marine Corps Base Quantico, advises base residents to keep all grills and fire pits away from structures and to place them on a paved driveway or concrete pad to reduce the risk of setting your house or porch on fire. He also said grills should always be attended by someone who is not intoxicated.
Regarding fireworks, Houchin said that base and state regulations prohibit anything beyond a sparkler for personal use. According to the Virginia Department of Forestry website, "Firecrackers, skyrockets, torpedoes, and other fireworks that explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air" are prohibited. Further, "Possessing, selling or using unlawful fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500."
Large, public fireworks displays are authorized by permit, and there are numerous fireworks displays in the local area throughout the spring and summer season, including in the town of Quantico on May 23. Quantico will be hosting its 2nd Annual Memorial Day Weekend Fireworks Show and Music Concert in the park along River Road, beginning at 7 p.m.
For those who are interested in boating, the Quantico marina offers sailboat and motor boat rentals. However, said Phil Earhart, assistant manager for the marina, all potential boat operators must have a motorboat license or class B skipper’s license (for a sailboat). Further, while out on the water, all passengers must wear a life jacket at all times and remain in the boat; swimming is not allowed. Boaters cannot tow any water skiers behind any boat rented from the marina either. It is required that all boaters carry a fire extinguisher and a radio onboard.
The marina does offer sailing lessons for adults on weekends throughout the summer, as well as youths ages 11-17. Participants can earn the required skipper’s license by completing the course and then be eligible to rent a 14-, 16-, or 18-foot sailboat.