Summer Safety Tips for all Season Long

Driving Safety

1. Be well rested and alert, use seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. Clean your headlights and turn them on as dusk approaches or in inclement weather.

2. Don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver available.

3. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.

4. Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways.

5. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.

Water Safety

1. Ensure that everyone in the family becomes water competent. That is, learn to swim well, know your limitations and how to recognize and avoid hazards, and understand how to help prevent and respond to emergencies around water.

2. Adults should actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. Kids should follow the rules.

3. Fence your pool in with four-sided fencing that is at least four-feet in height and use self-closing, self-latching gates.

4. Wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level.

5. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair – everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. If in a location with no lifeguards, such as a residential pool, designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on children in and around the water.

Beach Safety

1. If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool. Be sure you have the skills for these environments.

2. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.

3. Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. Know your limitations and make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.

4. Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.

5. If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

Grilling Safety

1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.

2. Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.

3. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.

4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.

5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

When bringing food to a picnic or cookout:

• Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. You can also use frozen food as a cold source.
• Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood); cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.
• Keep your cooler out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. Remember that a full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one.
• To keep your food cold longer, avoid opening the cooler repeatedly.

When cooking on the grill:

• Prevent cross-contamination from raw meat or poultry juices by washing counter tops and sinks with hot, soapy water. Wash hands after handling raw meat or poultry or its packaging because anything you touch afterwards could become contaminated.
• Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
• Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures.
• Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve cooked food.

When serving food outdoors:

• Do not sit perishable food out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour. This is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to foodborne illness.
• Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler.
• After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140°F or warmer.
• Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.

For more information, visit and learn fire safety for your next barbecue from the U.S. Fire Administration.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills ( so you can help save a life.

L.A. races to fix vulnerable buildings before next major earthquake

Fifty-two people died in the collapse of several concrete structures, including buildings at the San Fernando Veterans Administration Hospital, above, in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. Such structures are targets for seismic retrofits in L.A. (Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times)
By Rong-Gong Lin II

When Los Angeles two years ago approved the nation’s most sweeping earthquake retrofitting regulations, officials knew they were in a race against time.

The law requires the retrofitting of hundreds of brittle concrete buildings, one of the most vulnerable types of structures in California.

But experts have worried that a major earthquake will hit Southern California before the deadline to fix the buildings comes.

“Chances are it will happen before that 25-year deadline,” California seismic safety commissioner Kit Miyamoto said.

There is a 60% chance that a magnitude 6.7 earthquake — the size of the 1994 Northridge temblor — or larger will strike the Los Angeles area in the next 30 years, said U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Morgan Page.

L.A.’s effort is now hitting a key milestone, with the city issuing orders to owners of roughly 1,500 concrete buildings in Los Angeles believed to be at risk, which dot the city from downtown to the Westside to the San Fernando Valley.

City officials began sending out orders before Thanksgiving following the catastrophic September earthquakes in Mexico, in which many of the dead were killed by concrete building collapses.

The concrete Enrique Rebsamen school collapsed in Mexico City during Tuesday’s earthquake. At least 25 bodies were carried out — 21 were students, believed to be 7 or 8 years old. Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times

For property owners who receive the orders, the financial toll could be considerable. Retrofitting could cost millions of dollars.

Currently, there are no public subsidies available to help pay for the work. Some owners have expressed concerns about how they will pay.

Once the owners are sent an order to comply with the law, they are first given a three-year deadline to hand in a report to confirm whether the building is brittle concrete and whether it needs to be retrofitted. If the building is found to be vulnerable, owners are given seven more years to file to the city plans to retrofit or demolish the building. They’ll then have 15 more years to complete the retrofit or demolition.

The deadly nature of brittle concrete buildings became clear in Los Angeles nearly half a century ago, when 52 people died in the collapse of several concrete structures, including hospital buildings, in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. Concrete buildings fell again in 1994 during the Northridge quake. Efforts in the 1990s to fix the buildings died amid concerns from property owners about the costs.

Cyclists roll past the remains of the concrete Kaiser Permanente clinic and office building in Granada Hills that collapsed during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Jonathan Alcorn / For The Times

But in 2015, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti pushed through the seismic retrofitting rules and was backed by the City Council on a 12-0 vote.

Raoul Rañoa / @latimesgraphics

More recent earthquakes worldwide also highlighted the danger of concrete buildings. The collapse of just two concrete buildings in New Zealand’s third-largest city, Christchurch, killed two out of every three people who perished in the 2011 earthquake there; the final death toll was 185. During Mexico’s Sept. 19 earthquake, about 40 buildings collapsed in the capital; many were concrete.

The upper stories at this seven-story office building on Avenida Alvaro Obregon in Mexico City collapsed, leaving entire floors stacked like pancakes. The death toll was 49 at this one building alone. Rong-Gong Lin II / Los Angeles Times

Earthquake experts say that as many as 50 brittle concrete buildings in the city of L.A., housing thousands of people, could collapse in an earthquake.

Which buildings collapse depends in part on where the earthquake strikes and how big it is.

Miyamoto, the state seismic safety commissioner, says an unretrofitted L.A. hit hard by an earthquake could look like Mexico City did three months ago.

“I’m proud that L.A. is leading the effort [on concrete buildings], globally speaking,” Miyamoto said. “However, 25 years? Come on…. This needs to be something like a five- to 10-year effort.

“What we saw in Mexico City, we’re going to see an even bigger deal in L.A.,” said Miyamoto, a structural engineer.

The brittle concrete Pyne Gould Corp. building collapsed when the magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand. It was built in the 1960s. Hannah Johnston / Getty Images

Shortly after the Mexico earthquake struck, Garcetti urged owners to retrofit buildings far ahead of the city deadline.

“Mexico City should be a reminder that we shouldn’t sit back and congratulate ourselves and pray between now and 2042 we’ll be OK,” the mayor said in September. “Let’s figure out a way to get to work now.”

Some owners have already begun calling up structural engineers to figure out how to proceed as they make decisions about upcoming renovations, said David Cocke, a spokesman for the Structural Engineers Assn. of Southern California.

Interest is also picking up on the Westside after Santa Monica and West Hollywood in 2017 passed their own concrete retrofit laws.

Earthquakes have hit before mandatory retrofit deadlines have passed before.

In the Central California town of Paso Robles, officials identified the iconic Acorn building in 1989 as a hazardous brick building. It collapsed during an earthquake in 2003, killing two shop employees. The owner had until 2018 to retrofit it. A jury awarded the families of the dead nearly $2 million, concluding that the owners were negligent in not making the building safer.

Brittle concrete buildings were built with a flaw — not enough steel in the right configuration to keep concrete caged and prevent it from exploding outside building columns during an earthquake.

Some of these buildings have already been retrofitted; Los Angeles requires retrofits when an old building that was once, say, an office or a warehouse is converted to another use, such as residential housing. But many more have yet to be done.

Raoul Rañoa / @latimesgraphics

In the past, owners would sometimes consider plans to retrofit large, brittle concrete buildings but then back out when they saw the sticker price, said Saif Hussain, a Los Angeles-based structural engineer.

“Now, they have to do something,” said Hussain, who has helped write retrofit guidelines for both the city and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Even a single collapse would be catastrophic, not only for the building owner, but for the neighborhood and surrounding community. Lives would be lost and the building gone, but so would many of the engines that power the economy — rental income for the owner and places for people to work and live for the tenants.

In the meantime, L.A. is progressing on retrofitting a different type of building, wood apartment buildings with a flimsy first story. Out of about 13,500 apartments and condos, more than 350 retrofits have been completed and more than 2,000 were in the process of complying with the ordinance as of October, according to the mayor’s office.

Twitter: @ronlin