I recently read that the National Safety Council considers the 4th of July to be the most dangerous holiday. When you add together alcohol, fireworks and traveling, it makes July the most deadly month of the year.
There are more traffic fatalities due to more people the on road, as well as the combination of drinking and driving. Emergency rooms treat thousands of fireworks injuries each year, and many of those hurt are under 15 years old.
You and your family can take precautions to be safe and have an enjoyable 4th of July.
Here are 10 tips to help you celebrate a safe and healthy Independence holiday:
If you can, plan your travel when there will be fewer people on the road for the holidays. The worst time for increased traffic and accidents is from about 6pm on July 3rd through about midnight on the 4th. Always wear your seat belt and encourage everyone in the vehicle to buckle up. Be alert for reckless or erratic drivers. Think ahead if you plan to consume alcohol and have a designated driver.
If fireworks are legal in your area, be sure to store them safely. Keep them out of reach of children and have kids stay a safe distance from fireworks at all times. Make sure your spectators are safely away from fireworks. Don’t allow young children to handle fireworks and closely supervise older children. Make sure you are using fireworks in a clear area away from anything flammable. Keep a bucket of water handy in case of fire.
Use caution around water
Water sports are often part of 4th of July celebrations. Lakes, waterway and oceans are popular places to gather. Use safe boating practices and make sure you have plenty of life preservers. Don’t let anyone swim alone and supervise kids when playing in water.
Watch campfires and grills
It’s easy to suffer from burns with campfires and grills. Keep a close eye on children when you have a fire or grill going. Gas grills can also be sources of explosions or fires. Since it’s often dry during July, be careful that you don’t start an unwanted fire.
If you’re going to enjoy outdoor activities during the 4th, be sure to apply sunscreen before you go outdoors. Even if you’re just attending a backyard cookout, you need to use sunscreen. You should also reapply sunscreen if you’re outdoors for an extended period of time, and especially after you have been in the water.
Wear insect repellent
Many 4th of July activities mean spending time outdoors. If you’re camping, hiking or just spending time by the lake or in the yard, you should protect yourself from insect bites. You may be in an area with mosquitoes or ticks. Use insect repellent and check yourself for ticks at the end of the day’s activities.
Protect food outdoors
Leaving food sitting outside all day can invite food borne illnesses. You should only leave food out for one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees and no more than two hours when it’s cooler. Place foods that need to be kept cold in a cooler with plenty of ice. Any food can potentially become contaminated if left out it hot weather. Also be sure to wash your hands often when preparing and handling food.
Drink plenty of water
To prevent heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion, make sure you drink plenty of water. You can also spend time in the shade or indoors if you start feeling overheated. Alcohol consumption can also promote dehydration and the risk of heat illnesses.
Use alcohol responsibly
Alcohol can be a dangerous combination when added to other 4th of July activities. Driving, boating and water sports can be more hazardous when alcohol is involved. Swimming can also be more dangerous when drinking. Be responsible when drinking and watch out for others who may overindulge.
Many animals are frightened by fireworks. Keep pets safe and away from the activities if the noise bothers them. Don’t leave pets in the car or unattended while you attend fireworks displays or other holiday events. Make sure your pets are provided for and have plenty of fresh water if you are busy with holiday activities.
By taking a few precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable holiday this 4th of July!