Independence Day is tomorrow! A time for celebrating the birth of our nation, relaxing, firing up the grill, and taking in some fireworks.
But did you know July 4th is one of the deadliest days in America? Every year, the National Safety Council predicts hundreds of deaths and tens-of-thousands of injuries that will require medical attention every Fourth of July. And that’s just on America’s roadways! This doesn’t include accidents from fireworks, boating, swimming, or heat illnesses.
So here are a few tips to help you enjoy the holiday and stay safe.
1. Firework Safety
Now that most fireworks are legal here in Iowa, local hospitals and emergency services are planning for an increase in firework-related injuries. If you enjoy the day with friends who include a private firework show as part of the celebration, make sure to have a plan in place in case accidents DO happen. Keep the fireworks a safe distance from those watching the display.
Make sure to enjoy your sparklers over a paved area like a driveway or parking lot, away from any dry grass or brush that could catch fire. And have a bucket of water available for the kids to drop their extinguished sparklers in to avoid burns.
2. Car Safety
- This should go without saying: stay legal and use seatbelts at all times.
- Please, please, PLEASE, don’t drink and drive!
- While texting while driving has always been unsafe, it is now considered a primary offense as of this past weekend. So avoid using your cell phone at all while driving. Keep your eyes on the road and the traffic around you.
- And lastly, if you see someone else on the roads being unsafe, especially if they are driving as if they are under the influence, call 911. Don’t let their Independence Day be ruined by injuring themselves or worse yet, injuring or killing someone else.
3. Water safety
Jumping in a pool or boating on a lake is a GREAT way to enjoy the day. But be sure to use some caution:
- Always have someone available to serve as the lifeguard if you are at an unsupervised area like a private pond or river front.
- Be wise about the use of toys. A nerf ball is a ton of fun in the pool, but a regular baseball isn’t!
- Be sure to obey all rules and stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Just as with a car, don’t drink if you are the one providing the steering.
- Make everyone wear a life jacket, especially the kiddos and friends who admit they can’t swim.
- Check your safety equipment before shoving off.
4. Weather Safety
- Be sure to put on sunscreen if playing outdoors.
- If the temperature gets quite warm, be sure everyone keeps drinking plenty of water.
- If temperatures get higher than the weatherman has predicted, pack some cold packs in your first aid kit for those who get overheated.
- If a storm strikes up and you see lightning, immediately get everyone out of the water. Seek shelter.
5. Grilling Safety
What is the Fourth of July without grilling up some burgers and brats? But to make sure that only the meat heats up:
- Clean your grill before putting meat on the grate to help avoid grease fires.
Don’t leave the grill unattended, especially when the fire is roaring highest and hottest.
- Make sure the grill is safely away from the house, deck edge, or anything else that could melt or catch fire from the heat.
- If using charcoal, be sure your lighter fluid only gets on the coals and not outside the grill. Then light your fire carefully. (Oh, and be sure to only use charcoal lighter fluid. Don’t substitute something else, even if you run out or forgot to buy some.)
- If using propane, be sure to turn everything off if you smell gas.
This post isn’t trying to be a Debbie-downer (by the way, why is Debbie always the downer? Why not Diane? Or Don? Sorry to all the Debbies reading this…). Rather, may this be a reminder to have fun safely. Because the instant someone gets hurt from negligence or just plain stupidity, the fun ceases. So to ensure you can celebrate many Fourth of July’s, play safely!
Have a wonderful Fourth!