Mayor’s Message: Protect your family this summer

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Summer is the peak season for travel, recreation and much-needed relaxation with friends and family. But whether you’re staying home, visiting a local swim club or planning a trip out of town, this time of year can also present our community with a unique set of challenges in terms of health and public safety.

In addition to staying cool and hydrated when the mercury rises, it’s important to safeguard yourself, your family and your home against potential dangers you might not always consciously consider.

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For example, pools and hot tubs are particularly important to safeguard. A child can drown or suffer an injury in just the time it takes to answer a telephone. Even pools that are not in use can be dangerous for children left unattended.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers a wealth of valuable information for keeping your family secure at www.poolsafety.gov. Some helpful tips include:

• Always watch your children when they are in or near a pool or spa. The same rule applies when you’re on the beach or at a community swim club.

• Teach basic water-safety tips, and make sure you and your children know how to swim. The Recreation Department offers beginner swimming lessons each summer, and most area swim clubs do too. For more information, contact Recreation at (856) 488–7868 or visit the township website.

• Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings in which they could become entangled.

• Have your cell phone or portable phone close at hand at all times.

• Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly.

• Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency.

• Install a four foot or taller fence around the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates. Ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools. In Cherry Hill, pool owners are required to keep their properties secure. For specific requirements and information on obtaining a fence permit, contact the Department of Community Development at (856) 488–7870.

• In addition to fencing, install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water.

• Make sure pool and hot tub covers are secured and in good condition.

Another common summer safety concern is home security during a busy travel season. An empty home is an attractive site to a would-be burglar — so much so that State Farm has compiled a list of things to keep in mind when getting ready for vacation.

  • Set timers on interior and exterior lights. A porch light that’s on 24–7 or a living room that’s been dark for the last week are clear signs nobody’s home.
  • If your home has an alarm system, call your representative to let them know you’ll be away. Make sure your alarm is turned on and set properly before you leave.
  • Lock, then double-check, all doors and windows.
  • Put jewelry and other valuables in a safe deposit box, or in another hard-to-access location. Never leave them in plain sight.
  • Schedule lawn care. Whether you contact a local service or enlist help from a friend or neighbor, regular lawn maintenance will also help make it look like someone is home. It’s also a good idea to trim branches that might provide easy access to windows.
  • Stop newspaper and mail delivery. At a minimum, ask a neighbor to pick it up regularly.
  • Lock your garage — even if there’s no entrance to your house — so bicycles, tools and other items are also secure.
  • Don’t leave spare keys outdoors. Burglars know to look in the most popular hiding places, such as under doormats and in potted plants
  • Don’t broadcast your absence. This is especially important as use of social networking sites has grown. Sharing your plans with friends and family on Facebook or Twitter may seem harmless, but pictures, check-ins and constant status updates advertise that your house is empty. Post your photos after you’ve returned.

The Cherry Hill Police Department’s Community Relations Officer is an excellent resource for education on these and all home and personal safety issues. For more information or assistance, call (856) 488–7813, or visit the township’s website at www.cherryhill-nj.com.

As Mayor, as a parent, and as a resident, I strongly encourage you to use our vast resources to their full capacity so you and your family can enjoy a very safe, happy and healthy rest of the summer.

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