5 Tips for a Safe Fourth of July
What could be more American than the Fourth of July? After all, it’s the holiday that celebrates the boldfaced courage of our founding fathers to write the Declaration of Independence and give birth to this great nation. Every year, millions of Americans celebrate this day with abandon, indulging in fun and sun, food and fireworks.
You can ensure everyone’s safety this Fourth of July without diminishing this most American of celebrations. When you put these safety tips first, you’ll maximize the fun and enjoy the day.
1. Be safe around fireworks. The smartest option is watching a professionally produced fireworks display. But if you want to have your own fireworks display, follow these safety tips.
• Keep water handy in case of emergency.
• Never re-light a “dud.” Instead, wait 20 minutes and then submerge the faulty firework in water.
• Never mix alcohol and fireworks. Only sober adults should light a wick.
• Never let children shoot fireworks.
• Designate one responsible adult as the fireworks supervisor. This person should be responsible for lighting most of the fireworks as well as ensuring that others behave safely around them.
2. Be safe in the sun. You may have heard that most skin damage occurs before age 18, but a study by the American Society of Photobiology says this isn’t true. In fact, only 23 percent of a lifetime of sun damage occurs that early.
This urban myth has caused many people to eschew sunscreen later in life, a mistake that will cause increasingly sun damaged skin and possible skin cancer. To minimize your risk, use plenty of sunscreen and make sure you’re slathering on a minimum of SPF 15. Apply sunscreen in a thick layer and reapply after swimming or sweating.
3. Be safe in the heat. If not caught in time, heat exhaustion leads to heat stroke, a serious condition where your temperature rises rapidly and your body loses the ability to cool itself. During heat stroke, your body temperature is 104 degrees or higher, a temperature that can cause damage to the brain and other organs.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion, the precursor to heat stroke, are lightheadedness, heavy sweating and nausea. Prevention is simple since it’s caused by dehydration. Make sure everyone drinks plenty of non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day, not just when they become thirsty.
4. Keep foods safe. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as 128,000 people will be hospitalized by food borne illnesses this year. To keep your picnic safe, follow these simple food safety guidelines.
• Keep raw meats separate from other food.
• Never let utensils that have been in contact with raw meat touch cooked meat or any other food.
• Dispose of marinades contaminated by raw meat.
• Cook all meat to the recommended temperature. Verify the correct temperature by using a meat thermometer.
• Return all food to a cooler or refrigerator within an hour of being taken out.
• Never mix alcohol and water sports. The Coast Guard reports that 70 percent of recreational boating accidents involve alcohol.
• Always wears a life jacket while participating in water sports.
• Supervise children when they’re in water, even in your home pool or wading pool. Children can drown in a very small amount of water, and kids under four are at the highest risk for drowning accidents.
If you keep safety in mind before and during your celebration, you’ll make fantastic memories that last a lifetime. Now go pack that picnic and get to the lake.