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Mardi Gras: Go home with beads and not injuries

With Mardi Gras season almost upon us, it’s a good time to review some basic safety tips that can keep your family safer if you venture into the merry chaos that is Carnival in south Louisiana.

Whether you are a purist and head to New Orleans for the parades or enjoy the local celebrations in Terrebonne Parish, the same common sense principles and safety rules apply. Below are some tips to keep in mind as you enjoy the magic of Mardi Gras.

Plan ahead

While there’s a lot to be said for spontaneity at Carnival, if you are the parent of small children or plan to travel in a large group, pre-planning is essential for fun and safety. Designate a spot where the kids (and even adults) can safely chill out away from the crowd, catch a nap and regroup. Bring everything you will need for your children, including a change of clothes if it warms up from a cold morning.

Keep the kids way back from the floats

It seems that nearly every Carnival season, someone dies or is seriously injured when they get run over by a float. Whether you use the “ladder system” for your young tribe or boost them up on your shoulders, never let them run into the street to chase a float or pick up beads.

Beware of stomped fingers

Yes, doubloons are pretty and shiny attractions for kids. But none are worth the pain of broken fingers if a reveler’s foot stomps down on your child’s hand as they reach for the doubloon. Use nets to catch bounty from riders instead.

If you drink, don’t drive

That rule applies all the time, but especially at Mardi Gras. You also need to drive very defensively as you go to and from the parades. Inevitably, some of the drivers will be intoxicated. You want to give any suspicious driver a wide berth to avoid a deadly crash.

You may not be able to get a police report

At the height of Carnival, police often do not respond to minor fender-benders where no one is injured. If somebody dents your bumper, stop and exchange information at the scene so that you can later make a claim against their insurance company for any damages they cause.