Independence Day is a time for celebration, sunshine, and family fun—not a day to spend in the hospital. July Fourth celebrations often include
delicious BBQ, outdoor activities like swimming and grilling, daylong
parties, travel, fireworks, and more. While many folks celebrate accident
free, there are risks involved. That’s why the
National Safety Council has identified July Fourth as
the most dangerous U.S. holiday. To make your Fourth of July celebration a day you’ll never forget
(in a good way), consider these safety tips.
Leave the Fireworks Show to the Pros
Who doesn’t love fireworks? They’re beautiful and the culminating
event to any good July Fourth celebration. But all that glitter and shine
comes with a price. According to the
National Fire Protection Association,
more fires are reported on July 4 than any other day of the year—and fireworks account for two out of five reported fires. On average,
fireworks cause 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and nearly 17,000
other fires resulting in thousands of injuries.
To create a safe environment for fireworks, keep these things in mind:
- After using a firework, wet it down and then place it in a metal trash
can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers
for young children. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees, so steer clear
of tiny hands and toes.
- Do not use homemade fireworks.
- FAA regulations prohibit the possession and transportation of fireworks
in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
- If a firework doesn’t work, don’t try to relight it. Wait 20
minutes and then soak it in a bucket of ice water.
- Keep a bucket of water and a ready-to-use water hose nearby.
- Light one firework at a time and then move away from the area quickly.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying and using them.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Never drink while using fireworks. Alcohol and explosives don’t mix.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Only use fireworks in clear, outdoor areas away from all buildings and vehicles.
- Read all the instructions, precautions, and performance descriptions on
the fireworks before setting them off.
- Wear safety glasses at all times.
Play Safely While Enjoying the Water
Nothing says summer like jumping in a backyard or community pool. Over
the Fourth of July holiday, the
American Red Cross reports that
8 out of 10 Americans plan water activities such as going to the beach, pool, waterpark, boating, or fishing. Before
you go in the water this Fourth of July, discuss these
swimming and water safety tips with your entire family:
- If you have a pool or are celebrating near water and have small children,
secure the area with a gate, fencing, child locks, etc.
- Never leave a small child unattended near water—and never trust one
child’s life to another. Children should always ask permission from
an adult before going near water.
- Never swim alone—always use the buddy system.
- Only swim in designated areas supervised by a lifeguard.
- Pay constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers in or near
- Young children or inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved
life jackets around water.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially in high temperatures.
- Keep the appropriate equipment handy—life jackets, a first aid kit,
a cell phone in case of emergencies, etc.
- Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,
and be sure to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen. Reapply often.
Use Caution When Grilling
A Fourth of July celebration isn’t complete without a few hot dogs,
hamburgers, and veggies to
throw on the grill. It’s tradition, but like fireworks it comes with some risks. July
sees more grill fires than any other month. So, how can you satisfy your
guests’ appetites while being a safe and accommodating host?
- Clean your grill regularly, and remove grease and fat buildup from the
grates and trays.
- If you or someone close to you suffers from burns over the July Fourth
holiday, make sure you have a plan in place to treat them.
- Keep children and pets at a safe distance from the grill.
- Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors.
- Place the grill away from your home, deck railings, and out from under
- While cooking, stay next to your grill and never leave it unattended.
In the event of burns, know what to look for. There are three types of
burns: first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns.
A first-degree burn is a superficial burn to the top layer of skin that
can typically be treated at home; a second-degree burn is a more serious
injury affecting deeper layers of skin; and a third-degree burn is a serious
injury that affects all layers of the skin. Each burn type requires different
forms of treatment.
Treatment for first-degree burns requires soaking the wound in cool water
for five minutes or longer. Take the recommended amount of acetaminophen
or ibuprofen, apply aloe gel or cream to soothe the skin, and apply antibiotic
ointment or loose gauze to protect the burned area. When treating second-degree
burns, call your healthcare provider if severe pain persists, you notice
signs of infection, there’s skin disruption with discolored tissue
present, or your condition worsens.
If you’ve suffered a third-degree burn, call 911 immediately. A person
suffering from third-degree burns may have trouble breathing, burns covering
more than one body part, and suspected burns to their airway.
Avoid Danger When Driving
Did you know that July 4 is the deadliest day on the road?
almost 43 million Americans take trips to destinations at least 50 miles
from their home during this time, making the holiday’s high traffic volume a prime
cause of accidents. On average, the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports
that more people die in motor vehicle crashes on July 4 than any other
day of the year.
In general, there are more people on the roads, which means drivers should
be extra careful navigating, especially outside of their normal routes.
Before hitting the road, consider these tips to minimize your travel risks:
- Expect delays. Driving during peak holiday hours can be stressful, so give
yourself ample time and space between cars and to get to your destination.
- Follow basic safety practices—buckle your seatbelt, wear a helmet
on a motorcycle or bicycle, don’t drink or drive, keep all small
children in car seats, and obey all speed limits.
- Get a good night’s rest the night before any long road trip, and
take a break or rotate drivers when needed.
- Have a trusted mechanic check your car before any long road trip. If nothing
else, at least check the basics: oil level, tire pressure, gas level,
and coolant level.
- Keep your eyes and mind on the road, and avoid all distractions.
- Know where you’re going. Check your map and use voice-activated GPS
- Reconsider your travel timing. The roads are less congested a few days
before and after July 4, and evenings after work are usually worse too.
- Summer can be an especially dangerous time for teen drivers. Limit your
teens’ time behind the wheel to daytime hours only.
Prepare Your Pets in Advance
We love the Fourth of July, but it can be a scary day for pets. Does your
Frightened Fido hate the loud boom of fireworks? Consider their safety
too this holiday.
- After a fireworks display, check your yard for debris before letting pets outside.
- Be sure that your pets have identification tags, so they can be returned
to you if they run off during a fireworks display or gathering.
- Don’t let pets near your grill while it’s in use.
- If fireworks are being used near your house, put your pets in a safe room
where they feel secure and are away from the noise.
- If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets
to make sure they don’t escape. Ask them to confirm that all doors
and gates are closed at all times throughout the night.
- If you’re travelling away from home, consider leaving your pets at
home with a sitter or family member, boarding them in a kennel, or staying
overnight at a close family member or friend’s house.
- Leave your pets at home. Never bring them to a fireworks display, even
if it’s a small one, or large parties with loud noises, crowds,
and unfamiliar spaces.
- Never leave your pet alone in the car when it’s hot outside. Vehicle
interiors heat up much faster than the air around them.
- Never shoot off fireworks of any kind, even ones as small as sparklers,
around your pets.
- Resist the urge to feed your pets table scraps that could upset their stomachs
and cause other problems.
Have Fun This Fourth!
By putting safety first, you’re sure to have a great holiday filled with fun!