How to Plan Ahead for a Safe Fourth of July 

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Friends celebrating US Independence Day
Celebrations surrounding July 4 bring lots of images to mind. Family gatherings, backyard picnics, trips to the beach, outdoor barbecues and swimming, all with the backdrop of fireworks. Marking our nation’s birthday is always a fun time to get together with family and friends. But, there can also be a lot of unexpected dangers during times like these. Whether it’s swimming pool accidents, food poisoning or fireworks injuries, the July 4 holiday is one of the most dangerous days of the year, according to data analyzed by the Pew Research Center.
Danger zone. Hospital emergency room visits in the U.S. tend to spike on July 4 and July 5 each year, with an average of more than 45,000 injured people coming in on each of those days – thousands more patients than on an average summer day, the center found. The biggest factor is fireworks-related injuries.
Research has shown that more than half of all the fireworks-related injuries that occur in the U.S. each year happen during the first eight days of July. Males and people under age 30 account for the majority of those injured. Burns, abrasions and cuts dominate the type of injuries, with most reported being to the eyes, face and hands, research shows.
Swimming-related injuries rank high, too, with about 10% of all of this type of injury in the U.S. happening within that same time frame. But there are some simple things you can do in advance to keep your family and friends safe during the holiday. Here are some tips:
Fireworks safety. Never use illegal fireworks. They are dangerous and should be handled only by professionals. If you choose to use legal fireworks, here are the guidelines offered by the National Safety Council:
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks, Older children should use them only under close adult supervision.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands.
  • Never light them indoors.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.
Food poisoning. Hot days, picnics and outdoor cookouts can be the perfect recipe for food poisoning if you’re not careful about keeping some foods cold. Foods that have ingredients that should be kept refrigerated – think potato salad and deviled eggs – should not be left out for more than two hours, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That’s because food left out at room temperature for too long can cause bacteria to multiply, which can make people ill.
Water safety. Whether you’re at the beach, a swimming pool or a lake, never leave young children – or people who cannot swim well – in the water unattended. Drowning can happen in seconds. If your child is wearing a life jacket, make sure it’s properly fastened. If you have to step out of their sight, make sure someone else is physically watching them.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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