Holiday Rush Tips – by Sarah Barnett

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T’is the season of hustle and bustle! In any normal year, the holiday season is usually full of tree lightings, parties, shopping, and gift-wrapping. While this year may be different, there’s sure to be some degree of holiday hustle! While providing the perfect holiday gift, meal, or memory may seem especially important this year, staying safe and healthy is paramount.

I learned my lesson on the importance of slowing down and staying safe over the holidays last Christmas Eve. While trying to check off all the boxes on my holiday to-do list, I hit the pavement to complete an 8 mile run in the morning, leaving time in the afternoon to go to church, cook dinner, and spend time with family and friends. While I normally enjoy every bit of my time spent running, that morning was different. I wasn’t running because I wanted to, I was running to “get the workout done”! About a mile into my run, I approached a major intersection. As I approached the intersection, I saw cars stopped for a red light. There was a car in the right hand turn lane, but from what I could tell, there were no openings that would allow the car to turn. Normally, I would stop at the intersection and fully monitor the traffic before attempting to cross. However, I was trying to rush through my workout, and I have crossed that intersection a hundred times without incident, so I hastily attempted to cross. A few steps into the intersection I quickly regretted my decision. The car in the right turn lane must have found an opening in traffic and floored his vehicle. I can only imagine that he too was trying to check off his holiday to-do list and didn’t think to check for rogue runners entering the intersection. Long story short, I got hit by his car!  Nothing forces you to slow down and rethink your safety quicker than finding yourself flat on your back in the middle of a busy intersection! A fun ambulance ride, some bed rest and a concussion later, I learned my lesson- It’s better to slow down and enjoy your holidays safely, otherwise you might be forced to!

Here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy your holiday:

  1. As a pedestrian, be sure to stop at all intersections and double check that it is safe to cross.
  2. Do not assume that pedestrians always have the right of way! If a crosswalk has a pedestrian signal and you enter the crosswalk without following or using the pedestrian signal, you are technically jaywalking! I know this from personal experience, when I was hit by the car on Christmas Eve, I was found at fault, not the driver!
  3. Even when pedestrians have the right-of-way, be cautious because it only takes one distracted driver who doesn’t yield for an accident to happen!
  4. When walking in parking lots, be extra vigilant! Put your phone down and pay attention to all your surroundings. Busy or dark parking lots make it easy for pedestrians to get hit or robbed.
  5. Park near light towers! This will help keep you visible when you are around your car and it deters theft.
  6. SLOW DOWN! Whether you are a pedestrian or in a vehicle, do not rush. When you find yourself getting anxious or feeling rushed, take a deep breath and remember that saving a few minutes by rushing around could have consequences for you or someone else.

As someone who spent several months recovering from an injury incurred while rushing around preparing for the holiday, I urge you to slow down and try to enjoy each minute you have with your family this holiday. Be safe!

Sarah Barnett is the Operations/Aquatics Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703.335.8872 x1482 or via email at s.barnett@manassasparkva.gov.

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