5 Tips for a Safe Independence Day
 

The time has finally come to celebrate everyone’s favorite summer holiday – Independence Day – more often referred to as the “4th of July.” As John Adams said in a letter to his wife in 1776, the day should be filled with, “…pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. “

While we all want to have fun and celebrate the birth of our nation, it’s important to keep safety at the forefront of our celebrations.

Below are tips for keeping yourself and loved ones safe on this patriotic holiday.

1. Fireworks

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by attending a show organized by professionals. You may think that it’s more fun to have your own fireworks display in the backyard, but this can be dangerous, and even illegal in some states.

However, if it’s legal in your state to use fireworks, be sure to follow these tips to stay safe:

  • ALWAYS supervise children and don’t allow them to light fireworks on their own – even if it’s just a sparkler.
  • Be sure to point fireworks away from all people, pets, cars, and structures.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. These have the potential to ignite and blow up in your hand.
  • Only light one firework at a time.
  • Have a bucket of water nearby in case you need it.
  • Don’t mix drinking alcohol with the use of fireworks.
  • Carefully follow all instructions on the fireworks packaging. 

Not sure if fireworks are legal where you live? Check out this U.S. map for laws surrounding consumer fireworks

2. Grilling

Planning on having a cookout to celebrate our nation’s birthday? Regardless of whether you’re using a charcoal or gas grill, keep these tips in mind to be sure food is safely prepared, cooked, and plated.

  • Never leave a grill unattended, and keep children and pets away from hot surfaces.
  • Be sure to use the grill in an open area – not near your home, vehicle, fence, deck, or other structures.
  • Use tongs with a long handle when flipping foods on the grill. This will help to prevent burns on your hands and arms.
  • Having chilled foods like potato salad, macaroni salad, fruit and dips? Keep them chilled until it’s time to eat.
  • Cover prepared foods if you’re keeping them outside while eating. This could help to keep the bugs out.
  • Don’t forget to put the flame out or douse the coals when you’re finished cooking.
  • Refrigerate leftovers and toss out used plates, napkins, and utensils so they don’t attract bugs. 

3. Swimming

A dip in the pool can be a great way to beat the Independence Day heat. Make safety a priority for yourself and other swimmers by following these tips:

  • ALWAYS supervise children in the water. Do not allow them to swim alone or unsupervised – even for a few minutes!
  • Do not mix alcohol with swimming. It could prove to be deadly.
  • If swimming at home, be sure the pool is ready for use ahead of time (e.g., make sure it’s clean!)
  • If you’re swimming at the beach, watch for rip currents. If you are caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until it passes. Then, swim back to the beach.
  • Stress the importance of taking a break often to prevent sore or fatigued muscles.
  • Re-apply sunscreen when necessary.
  • Don’t swim on a full stomach. 

4. Travel

Going out of town to enjoy the holiday? Keep travelers safe and your home protected by following these helpful tips:

  • If you will be gone for more than a few days, have the post office hold your mail until your return.
  • Put the lights in your home on a timer. This will make it appear that someone is home and help deter potential burglars.
  • Lock all windows and doors – including side and garage doors – before leaving.
  • Provide a copy of your travel itinerary to a trusted neighbor or friend in case someone needs to get in touch with you during an emergency. 

5. Pets

While you may love celebrating the 4th of July, your pets may not be so fond of the holiday. The loud, unexpected bangs of fireworks may frighten them, and the other festivities associated with the day could put them in harm’s way if you’re not careful.

Check out these tips from the ASPCA to be sure your furry, four-legged friends have an enjoyable day:

  • Don’t light fireworks with your pets nearby. The loud noises, fire, and smoke could be very dangerous. Not only is there a risk of having your pet run away due to the panic they feel from the unexpected noises, but there are toxins in the fireworks themselves that could make your pet sick. Fireworks could also cause burns and trauma to your pet’s body.
  • Don’t leave alcoholic drinks unattended. Your curious pet may accidentally knock the drink over and have a taste. This could cause respiratory failure, severe depression, or it may even put your pet in a coma.
  • Don’t feed your pet table scraps. While nothing may be more adorable than a begging dog at your feet, don’t give in and feed them bits and pieces of what’s on your plate. Any changes to your pet’s diet could cause serious digestive problems.
  • Don’t coat your pet with a sunscreen that isn’t approved for use on animals. If it’s not safe for them and they lick it off, they could become very sick or experience neurological problems.
  • Be sure your pet has their collar on at all times in case they happen to run away. Their collar should include their name, your name, and your contact information. 

These tips will help you and your family to have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day regardless of whether you’re spending it at home, at a fireworks display, at the beach, or on the road.