The thrill of fireworks, plentiful picnics, and festive gatherings on the Fourth of July easily makes the holiday rank among America’s favorites. But it’s also the most dangerous.

Historically, July 4th has been one of the most dangerous and deadliest holidays in our country. According to experts, more people die on the road and end up in the hospital than on any other day. The most common causes are car accidents due to impaired driving, fireworks injuries due to improper handling, swimming mishaps, and practicing improper food safety.

Whether you are hosting a celebration yourself or attending a neighborhood bash, take a stand for safety and declare independence from these common 4th of July dangers:

Fireworks

  • Read and follow instructions on fireworks packaging.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Never re-light a dud firework.
  • Never give fireworks to small children and carefully supervise older kids.
  • Skip the sparklers. These can burn at about 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals—and can easily cause burns and ignite clothing.
  • Never point fireworks toward people or buildings.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Keep a bucket nearby to extinguish fireworks (and matches) for extra protection.
  • Have a phone (to call 9-1-1) and fire extinguisher handy and make sure guests know where to find both in an emergency.

Grills

  • Keep an eye on your grill at all times and don’t leave food cooking unattended.
  • Make sure to keep the grill at least 25 feet away from your home to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Use long-handled tools for grilling to avoid burns from splatters and accidental touching of the hot metal.

Swimming

  • Always swim sober.
  • Make sure there is at least one other person who knows you are in the water.
  • Protect your neck by avoiding dives that are headfirst.
  • Beachgoers should stay aware of currents. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, turn and swim toward shore. You can also float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

Driving

  • Always drive sober.
  • Maintain safe speeds.
  • Be extra cautious in areas and neighborhoods that are likely to have more pedestrians than usual or where people may be setting off fireworks.

Most importantly, have a good time. Enjoying the Fourth of July with family and friends is part of what makes it great. Make sure to be safe to celebrate together for years to come!

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