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4th of July Safety

There is nothing more American than celebrating the nation’s Independence Day with your loved ones and friends. The 2021 holiday marks the resumption of pre-COVID-19 travel. Many will be on the roads and flying for the holiday. Although the celebrations can generate a lot of summertime fun, they are not without their risks. Here are a few common risks associated with the 4th of July and ways to mitigate your exposure.

Auto Accidents – The busiest days for travel in the U.S. are Fridays between June and August. Aside from the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas, the 4th of July is one of the most traveled times of the year, the peak time for summertime travel. Unfortunately, more people die in drunk driving crashes in July than any other month. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 4th of July is the most hazardous day to be out on the roads, primarily due to alcohol consumption. Alcohol sharply increases the risks for crashes. Here are some tips to avoid injures over the holiday weekend:

  • Make a plan

  • Designate a non-drinking driver

  • Take public transportation

  • Call Uber or Lyft

  • Travel during the day

  • Be an observant pedestrian

  • Obey traffic signals

  • Do not drink & drive

  • Go the speed limit

  • Wear your seatbelt

  • Have your car checkout prior to any long road trips

  • Watch for motorcycles and bicycles

  • Wear helmets and safety gear while operating motorcycles or bicycles

  • Leave prior to the holiday

Fireworks – If you do not have experience with fireworks, it can be best to leave them to the professionals. Although fireworks are legal in most states, they are not necessarily safe. In 2017, eight people died and over 12,000 were severely injured in firework-related incidents. Of these, 50% were children and adults under the age of 20. Over half of these injuries took place between June 16 to July 16. Over 1,200 injures were from sprinklers and small firecrackers. Fireworks contribute to over 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and over 17,000 other fires. If you chose to do your own legal fireworks, the following can help keep you and your family safe:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks

  • Other children should only use under close, non-intoxicated adult supervision

  • Avoid usage while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • Wear protective eyewear

  • Never light in your hand or indoors

  • Use in open areas away from people, houses and flammable materials

  • Do not point or throw fireworks at another person

  • Only light one device at a time and move away quickly

  • Never ignite a device in a container

  • Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case of an emergency

  • Never use illegal fireworks

Sparklers are also dangerous and are commonly used by children. They can quickly ignite clothing and children can be severely burned from droppings on their feet. The Nation Fire Protection Association relays that sparklers alone account for more than 25% of all emergency room visits related to firework injures and are a leading cause of injuries to children under 5. Safer alternatives include glow sticks, confetti poppers and colored streamers.

Swimming Accidents – Many families will be hitting the pool, lake, river or beach during the 4th of July weekend. Water and swim safety should be a top priority, as the holiday presents the busiest swim week of the year. In a crowd, it is hard for lifeguards to pay close attention to every swimmer. Between 2005 and 2014, there was an average of 3,536 unintentional drownings in the U.S., approximately ten deaths per day. Drowning is the leading cause of death of children between the ages of one to 14. Additionally, thousands of children are hospitalized for non-fatal drowning incidents. These can happen quickly, and a child can drown in as little as one inch of water in as little as 20 seconds. Below are some tips to stay safe around the water:

  • Supervise children closely

  • Designate a “water watcher”

  • Teach your children about water safety

  • Enroll in a swim class

  • Use appropriate; Coastguard approved life preservers

  • Never swim alone

  • Avoid breath-holding games

  • Do not jump in the water to save a friend

  • Enter the water feet first

  • Avoid pool drains

  • Stay within designated swim areas

  • Avoid the use of alcohol and drugs

  • Learn CPR

  • Avoid diving in shallow or unfamiliar water

  • Ensure you have an appropriate amount of fuel, flotation devices, fire extinguisher, paddles, flares and a whistle or airhorn device

  • Take a boater safety course

  • Avoid swift-flowing water, large waves and strong undertows

  • Pay attention to the tide schedule