The Fourth of July holiday is a special time in every community. We not only honor our country's independence, but enjoy time with family and friends.
Celebrations traditionally include cookouts and fireworks. A good time is had by all – until an accident happens. Nationwide, there are an average of 400 deaths and 41,000 injuries – including car crashes, swimming incidents and fireworks accidents – during the July 4th holiday period.
- The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show.
- Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
- Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
- Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
- Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
- Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
- Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
- Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
- Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
- Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
- Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
- Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.
- Learn to swim and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.
- For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
- Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers including four-sided fencing.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. If a child is missing, check the water first.
- Make sure every passenger buckles up every trip. The Council estimates 181 lives could be saved this holiday by seat belts.
- Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation. Since 2010, more than 37 percent of all fatal crashes during each Fourth of July holiday have involved alcohol.
- Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue on long trips.
- Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free.
- Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often.
- Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
- Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight.
- Protect the feet – the sand can burn them and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.
- During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke – hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing.
If you or someone you know has an accident with a serious injury, immediately dial 911. Treatment for other injuries can be provided at the Johnson Memorial Health Immediate Care Centers or Emergency Department.