Stay Safe This Fourth of July

 Source | J.P. Fernandez

Source | J.P. Fernandez

The Fourth of July is a notorious holiday for accidents related to the obvious fireworks, vehicular and water-related injuries.

I remember back when I was a sophomore college student in 2003. I worked on the weekends and the holidays. I would visit the x-ray console in the Emergency Room and witness the real life horrors as patients were being wheeled in with all types of injuries.

The holidays produced more visual and sensory experiences than one would like to see and feel but it gave me a perspective on how important safety is.

The National Safety Council predicts that 164 people may be killed on the road during the upcoming Fourth of July with an additional 18,600 of individuals who may be seriously injured in crashes.

These numbers are very serious which is why I recommend to consider the following factors and keep your family safe as you enjoy the festivities:

1. FIREWORKS

Last year in Indiana, a 13-year old boy was in critical condition when someone discharged a firearm. Upon investigation, police believe that the firearm was fired in to the sky as a firework. As the teen was playing basketball, the bullet fell on him contributing towards his injury.

In another incident, two teen boys sustained firework-related injuries. One of the boys severely injured his hand as a result of the firework they found and picked up.

Some of these types of injuries can turn deadly. In a 2016 Consumer Product Safety Commission report, at least 11 deaths and 11,900 people who were injured as a result of Fourth of July celebrations; with about 67 percent of the injuries happening in a span of thirty days before and after July Fourth. (1)

If you are responsible for your home light show or you are a pyromaniac enthusiast, light fireworks one at a time and immediately take a step back. Avoid trying to re-ignite fireworks especially the ones that you have a hard time lighting the first time. These duds can instantly explode in your face and is not worth a trip to the local Emergency Room.

Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case anything catches fire especially like shirt sleeves or grass.  Also never, ever allow young children (even pets!) to handle fireworks. Those colorful, innocent sparklers burn very hot at about 2,000 degrees, enough to melt metal!

In addition, observe your state and local firework laws and be sure to use legal, consumer-grade fireworks. Some street vendors may sell you an illegal firework so avoid spending your money on something you cannot use.

After completing your light show, be sure to douse the used device with plenty of water before completely discarding. Doing so will prevent a potential fire hazard happening in your trash can.

2. DRINKING WHILE INTOXICATED

Historically, Independence Day is one of the number one deadliest days for American drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that there were about 307 traffic fatalities between the period of 2011 and 2015. (2) On average, there are about 37 percent more highway fatalities on July Fourth than on an average day in July.

Want to guess which type of drivers think they are the best and experienced drivers? If you read the sub header, you can guess it- the ones who drink. Intoxicated drivers almost always underestimate their impairment.

The bottom line is don’t drink and drive because it is always the ones who are sober or the innocent bystanders who get hurt. If you can, avoid the roads when revelers start to head back home at peak times like after 10 P.M.

If you must drive, proceed with caution and reduce your speed. Avoid the need to mindlessly text and engage in making “visits” to Facebook and other social media apps. Be sure to buckle up and make sure the kids are secured and buckled too.

3. SAFETY AWARENESS MODE ACTIVATED

The last thing you would want to do is be too nonchalant about setting and following the safety rules especially around the holidays. I get it. Everyone wants to have a jolly time on their day off and while that is true, accidents does not take breaks.

Just one realization of how this simple pause in observation can lead to a catastrophe. So, be mindful of activities like the grilling and the pool fun going on particularly among children.

Practice safety measures you can commit to any day of the year. Consider doing a safety check and an overview with your family to orient them on how to react during a potential emergency.

The more seriousness that is applied towards safety, the less likelihood of an accident; the idea is all about prevention so you can spend more time with your family and not celebrate the holiday at your local hospital.

4. WATER BABIES 

Down here in Florida, when the temperatures go up we either head to the beach or chill in the pool soaking up the water. But unfortunately, everyone is a little less careful around the water especially on the holidays. In fact, those of us living in South have higher rates of drowning deaths overall.

Kids are playing while some adults are socializing and/or drinking to stay cool under the scorching sun. In less than five minutes, anything can happen including drowning incidents.

According to a USA Swimming analysis in 2011, there were 25 drowning incidents involving kids over the week of July Fourth. They are two peak categories of drowning death ages: those under 5 in bathtubs, pools and other water containers, and boys between the ages of 15 to 25 in beaches, rivers, and lakes. These incidents typically increase between the months of May and August.(3)

I suggest practicing basic pool safety by never leaving children alone near water and to pay attention to the kids during water activities. Alternatively, you can designated another (preferably sober) adult to watch the children should you need to engage in grilling or other activities. In addition, I recommend that kids enroll in swimming lessons to reduce the risks of drowning.

Do yourself and your family a favor this Fourth of July holiday and remember safety first!

Sources |

(1)Across America Patch. 2017 Fourth of July Fireworks-related accidents cause death, injuries. 5 July 2017.

(2) CBS News. Money Watch. The deadliest holiday for car accidents. 17 May 2017.

(3) Sharecare. How can I prevent my child from drowning?