The 4th of July holiday is the perfect time for friends and family to get together and enjoy good food, fun games, interesting conversation and, of course, the fireworks. Even though celebrating America is a ton of fun, it can also be dangerous.
Leave fireworks to the pros
Though it's tempting to set off fireworks and play with sparklers in your own backyard, don't do it. Severe burns, blindness and even death can be caused by the misuse of fireworks at 4th of July celebrations. Tom Harned, property risk field manager with Liberty Mutual Insurance and volunteer firefighter, urges people to leave the fireworks to the professionals.
"When it comes to fireworks, you are literally playing with fire — and in many states, you may even be breaking the law," says Harned. "The best choice is to pack a picnic basket and catch some of the amazing fireworks displays hosted by professionals in your community. Or, enjoy professional fireworks from the comfort of your own home, such as this year’s Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which will air on CBS on July 4 at 10 p.m. If you do choose to enjoy consumer fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area. Dress smart — no bare skin or loose clothing if you are near fireworks. Always use fireworks away from buildings, overhead branches or trees, dry grass, or combustible fuels. Keep a water hose or fire extinguisher in reach and know how to use it."
You should never point fireworks at another person or attempt to re-light fireworks. Use only state-approved, legal fireworks. Harned also warns to keep kids and pets away from fireworks at all times. Lighters, candles, matches, punks and other flames should be kept track of at all times and kept away from the kids. Also, keep your alcoholic beverages out of reach if you're imbibing. Small children and even pets can get into them and can get critically ill with just a small amount.
4th of July grilling safety
Quick tip: Avoid playing games with flying objects like baseballs, basketballs or Frisbees anywhere around the grill, torches or candles.
Everybody loves a good barbecue on 4th of July, but grilling can be dangerous if you aren't careful.
- Never grill indoors, in the garage, or under awnings, carports or any other surface that might catch fire.
- Always keep your grill away from siding, railings, trees and anything else flammable. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends using the grill at least 10 feet away from your home or any building.
- Skip the lighter fluid and instead use an electric or chimney lighter to light newspaper to start the charcoal.
- Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from grease or insects, and use a pipe cleaner to clear it.
- Check gas grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
- Follow the manufacturers’ instructions to check for gas leaks. If you detect a leak or smell gas, don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed by a qualified professional.
- Keep children well away from the grill area. Toddlers, preschoolers and even older kids who are busy playing can run into the grill without warning.
4th of July driving safety
The 4th of July holiday is full of barbecues, picnics, family fun and fireworks. Unfortunately, the number of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths rises significantly on Independence Day too. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, from 2006 through 2010, 4th of July was the deadliest day on roads across the U.S. with more than 700 people killed across the nation on those five holidays. Stay safe on 4th of July with these driving safety tips.
- Drink responsibly - If you are going to even have one drink on 4th of July, be sure to have a designated driver. Even if you think you are sober, your judgment and senses can be impaired after just one cocktail. If you can't find a designated driver, call a taxi. When you are driving, stay alert and keep an eye out for impaired drivers. Don't follow too closely and stay focused on the road and other vehicles, rather than chatting with friends and family in your car.
- Put down your cell phone - If you aren't sure of the directions or don't know where you are going on 4th of July, check your GPS before you leave the house. If you get lost, have a passenger in the vehicle make a call for directions or pull over to place the call, if you are alone. Distracted drivers fiddling with phone calls, text messages and navigation systems often are the cause of accidents.
- Stay home - No one says you have to go out on 4th of July. You can stay home and play host to a neighborhood block party where all your guests are within walking distance. Make it a potluck. Grill up your favorite meats and ask your neighbors to pitch in with all the sides, desserts and beverages.
No matter what you do with your family on 4th of July, have fun with your kids and be sure to stay safe!
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