“Fourth of July celebrations are typically marked by parades, water sports, good food, the company of family and friends, and, of course, fireworks.” -Bryan Lewis
Fourth of July celebrations are typically marked by parades, water sports, good food, the company of family and friends, and, of course, fireworks. Whatever your favorite tradition, make sure you are able to enjoy this Independence Day by following some simple safety tips.
Many people will celebrate the upcoming holiday outdoors. Whether having a picnic or barbeque or playing yard games, it’s easy to ignore the signs that somebody might be suffering from heat-related illnesses such as sunburn, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
If you plan to spend time in the sun, make sure you have applied a good sunblock that blocks both UVA and UVB light. Also, take breaks in the shade or wear a hat to protect vulnerable areas such as ears, lips, scalp and eyes. And drink plenty of water. It’s important to keep your body hydrated, to prevent heat exhaustion, especially if you are drinking alcohol.
A day on the water is another popular way to celebrate Independence Day, but if you aren’t careful, a fun day can quickly turn dangerous. In 2011, there were more than 4,500 accidents, more than 750 deaths and over 3,000 injuries on U.S. waters. According to the United States Coast Guard, alcohol was the leading contributor in these fatal boating accidents last year.
In order to make sure this statistic doesn’t become your reality, make sure you have a designated driver if you plan to drink this holiday. Even if not operating the boat, your impaired judgment from drinking can put you at risk. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 percent of boating fatalities occurred when the boat was docked, anchored or drifting. You’ve heard it your whole life, but wearing a life jacket could save you. Of those people who drowned last year, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
It’s always best to leave fireworks to the professionals, but many Americans are committed to shooting off their own fireworks, which led to an estimate 8,600 hospital visits in 2010. But, it’s not just your health that you are putting at risk when you set off your own firework show. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010, fireworks accounted for 15,500 fires to structures, vehicles and land, and $36 million in property damage. Here are some things to consider before you start your backyard firework show this Fourth of July.
- Do not let children play or light fireworks. The risk of injury is double for children ages 5 to 14.
- Set off fireworks on a hard, level surface in an open area.
- Light fireworks one at a time, and stand clear of them as they go off.
- If a firework is a “dud,” do not try to relight it. Let it sit in water for 20 minutes.
- Saturate used fireworks with water from a bucket or hose before discarding them.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the importance of good food for a successful Fourth of July. Before you start your backyard barbeque read this Cenexperts blog post on grilling safety that I wrote earlier this summer. And for any last minute snacks, sunscreen, water or other Fourth of July essentials, use our location finder to find your nearest Cenex branded retail location. Have a safe and fun Independence day.
-Bryan Lewis, CHS propane risk management manager