The Fourth of July is rolling around again. This is a great time to celebrate with friends, have a cookout, and be patriotic in general. But before the festivities begin, it is important to know how to make sure they are safe. This post includes information on fireworks, barbecues, boating, pool parties, and the sun. It’s only fun until someone gets hurt, so lets try to make sure the fun lasts all through the day injury-free.
The first area of safety concern is the obvious: fireworks. Fireworks are beautiful, fun, and patriotic displays, so we should learn how to incorporate them into our celebrations safely. Here are some things you should not do :
- Children should not play with fireworks. They are not toys. They can be very dangerous and cause severe injury. Children should also be kept away from the person who is shooting the fireworks.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. They can be unpredictable, and may go off at any time. Wait 20 minutes, then carefully soak it in cold water.
- Do not pick up or play with pieces of used fireworks. They can still be hot, and some may shoot sparks long after they have fallen.
- Do not carry fireworks in your pocket. Some are highly sensitive, and the friction may light them.
- Do not bring your pets to firework displays. Pets do not like loud noises and constant excitement, and may pose a danger to themselves and others if frightened.
- No horseplay with fireworks. Do not even pretend to throw or fire them at someone.
Here are some things you should do:
- Soak all used fireworks before throwing them away. You do not want accidental fires or latent explosions.
- Only light one firework at a time, and watch for where it falls.
- Read directions! Always! It may seem silly, but you really should do it.
- Wear closed-toed shoes when using sparklers or other hand-held fireworks. Filp-flops will not protect your feet.
- If someone does get burned, wash the area with cool, not ice, water immediately. If it looks serious, do not hesitate to call a doctor or hospital.
- Use only legal fireworks. Illegal fireworks are illegal for a reason. Here is a link to the complete Maryland firework laws: http://www.firemarshal.state.md.us/fworks.htm
Fireworks, however, are not the only thing we do on the Fourth. Many of us have cookouts and barbecues. These, when done correctly, are perfectly safe and very fun. When done incorrectly, however, they present fire hazards. Here are some tips to make sure you can safely grill to your heart’s content:
- Grills should not be used indoors or under structures that might catch on fire, such as patio covers.
- Check your grill for grease build up and clean thoroughly. Grease spots can catch fire and flare up unexpectedly.
- If you do get a grease fire, never pour water on it. Smother it with the lid, or use a fire extinguisher.
- Do not wear loose clothes while grilling. They may dangle into the flames and ignite.
- Children should not be allowed near the grill, whether it is in use or not.
Pool & Water Tips
Here in Maryland, we love our water. So the Fourth is an excellent time to have a pool party or go boating on the Chesapeake. These are the kinds of things you may not think about as being dangerous, but they can be. So for those at pool parties, this is for you:
- Always closely supervise any children in the pool. Do not leave them alone to go get more lemonade and chat with someone. Have at least one person whose job it is to watch them.
- Very young children should not be allowed near the pool at all.
- Inform children not used to pools about standard pool safety. (No running, horseplay, diving in shallow parts, etc. )
- Have a phone close by in case some kind of accident does occur.
Those of you going boating, here are some tips for you too:
- Wear a lifejacket, even if you are a good swimmer.
- Drinking and driving is just as bad on boats as it is on cars. If there is alcohol, there should still be a “designated driver”.
- Watch out for swimmers. There will be more than usual out there.
- Drive slowly, and avoid firework areas. Driving around at dusk and later is not a good idea.
Most of these activities will also leave you out in the sun. So while you might want a nice tan, please take the time to wear sunblock. You will still get tan, and you will lower your chances of uncomfortable burns, skin aging, and skin cancer.
Thank you for reading, and have a fun, safe Fourth of July everyone!