Although it’s one of our country’s favorite holidays, the Fourth of July can be extremely dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not taken. Fireworks are the main culprit of injuries and deaths on this holiday, but other potential threats exist as well. Make your holiday more enjoyable and less risky by using the following safety recommendations.
Know How To Spot Illegal Fireworks
Never use illegal fireworks to celebrate the 4th. These are often unlabelled and simply go by names like “M-80”, “M100” or “Blockbuster”. You’ll know legal fireworks because they’ll have a label with the manufacturer’s name and directions for use.
To keep your fireworks safe for use, store them in a cool, dry place. If fireworks haven’t been stored properly, then it’s safer not to use them than to risk it and light them anyway.
Don’t Allow Children Near Fireworks
This rule extends to more than just preventing kids from lighting the actual fireworks. It’s safest to keep children away from fireworks even when they are being stored or being taken out to the site where they’ll be lit. In addition, don’t let children touch or collect the pieces of the fireworks after they’ve gone off; there’s always a chance that a part of the firework could still be lit and could go off.
Safety Guidelines For Lighting Fireworks
When lighting your fireworks, there are several rules you should always follow:
- Always light fireworks outside in a clear area far away from spectators.
- Point fireworks away from homes and people. Avoid areas with lots of flammable materials, including dry brush or leaves.
- Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.
- Light fireworks one at a time.
- Never relight a dud.
- Back away as far as possible after lighting each firework.
- Allow time in between the lighting off fireworks. Parts of the firework could still be lit and go off after it appears to be finished.
- Keep water and/or a fire extinguisher close by as a precaution, and always soak used fireworks in water before throwing them away.
Alcohol may be a part of your celebrations, so make sure it is consumed responsibly. Don’t cook food, go swimming or light off fireworks if you’ve been drinking alcohol. Encourage everyone drinking alcohol to also stay hydrated with water, especially if temperatures are high. Don’t drive if you’ve been drinking; plan to stay the night or find a designated driver before the celebrations begin.
If you plan to grill out on the Fourth, take the proper precautions, including:
- Locate your grill outside away from people, homes, tents, deck railings, trees and brush.
- Make sure no children or pets are allowed near the grill
- Never leave the grill unsupervised.
- Don’t add starter fluid once the coals have already been ignited
- Look over the manufacturer’s instructions before using a grill, especially if it’s one you’re unfamiliar with.
(For more information on food safety for your Independence Day party, see Fourth Of July Food Safety Tips And Recommendations.)
Be Careful At The Beach Or In The Pool
Lots of people also want to enjoy a day of swimming at the beach or in the pool for this hot July holiday. However, it’s very important that you are safe when near or in the water. The following are some safety tips for fun in the water on the Fourth of July:
- Only swim in marked beach areas with a lifeguard. In the pool, an adult should always supervise any children swimming.
- Never dive into a shallow or unmarked area of the water.
- Take frequent breaks to drink water and reapply sunscreen.
- Don’t swim if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
- Get out of the water if you feel too cold, too tired or are too far from safety.
- Use boats and motorized watercrafts carefully and follow boating regulations. Do not operate any watercrafts if you have been drinking alcohol.
- Don’t swim in open waters where boats and motorized watercrafts may be going by.
- Wear a life jacket if you are a child, a weak swimmer or out on a motorized watercraft.
- If you get caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you get out of it. Once you are completely free of the rip current, swim towards shore.
Don’t Get Overheated
Another danger on the Fourth of July is the weather. It’s often quite hot out during this time of year, so make sure you’re keeping properly hydrated with water throughout the day. If you need to, get out of the sun and into an air- conditioned or shady area until you cool off. In addition, wear sunscreen to help protect your skin from sun damage.
It may seem like there are a lot of safety precautions to take, but they are well worth the effort to ensure that your Fourth of July celebrations are safe, happy and healthy. Make sure to keep a close eye on pets and children during this holiday due to the possibility of getting overheated or getting too close to fireworks.