How to Give Your Kids a Safe and Healthy July 4 Celebration 

When you’re a kid, Independence Day is a recipe for the kind of fun that only rolls around once a year: a holiday filled with small-town parades, fireworks displays, spending time with family and friends, sparklers and lots of food. But under these festivities, there’s a higher risk for injury tied to some of these activities. According to a Pew Research Center report, the Fourth of July is the most dangerous holiday in the U.S., with thousands more patients visiting emergency rooms than on an average day. But with a little planning, you can give your kids a safe and healthy July 4.  

Here are some of the risks to be mindful of: 

Protect them from too much sun. Most Fourth of July celebrations typically have lots of outside time, whether kids are standing along a parade route watching for the next float to motor by, or running around at a backyard picnic with friends. To help keep them safe in the sun, let them pick out their own wide-brim sun hat and fun sunglasses to wear. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also offers these sun-protection tips:  

  • Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight. 
  • Children should wear cool, comfortable clothing. Try lightweight cotton . 
  • For children older than 6 months, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of between 15 and 50. Don’t get sunscreen near children’s eyes.

Supervise children around fireworks – and sparklers. Fireworks are often the highlight of any July 4 celebration. But not being careful around them can also be what cuts your holiday short and sends you to the ER. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 10,000 injuries treated in emergency rooms in U.S. hospitals in 2019 were related to fireworks. Of these, a third involved injuries to kids younger than 15. These included injuries and burns to their eyes, face, fingers and hands.  

Sparklers, too, require supervision. Almost half of all fireworks-related injuries in children younger than 5 involve playing with lit sparklers. They can burn at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, causing burns on children’s skin and eye injuries. Here are some tips from the CPSC: 

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. 
  • Supervise children around any type of firework, even sparklers. 
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy whenever using fireworks or sparklers.

Keep kids hydrated. Running around outside, playing games, swimming – all the ingredients for a fun July 4 can leave kids feeling thirsty. Dehydration can sneak up on kids – and parents who are not keeping track of what their kids are drinking. It can lead to headaches, dizziness, cramping and fatigue. Instead of juices, soda or other sugary drinks, make sure children are drinking water throughout the day. Make it fun by adding a special July 4 swirly straw to their cup, or tape a paper flag to the outside.  

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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