It’s easy to go overboard on the 4th of July, but some mistakes are worth taking extra care to avoid.
Barbeques, fireworks, and days at the lake are common ways to celebrate Independence Day. But these parties all have plenty of hidden dangers you need to know.
Today we’ll cover the most common mishaps that happen during this holiday so you can protect your family from worst-case scenarios.
Let’s jump in!
What Are the Most Common July 4th Mistakes?
For years, the National Safety Council has cautioned about the dangerous mistakes people make during their 4th of July celebrations. Unfortunately, their warnings often go unheeded.
Between car accidents, alcohol-related incidents, and firework injuries, it’s one of the deadliest days in the calendar year. Things like heat, dehydration, and improper food handling are just the cheese on the apple pie of risks.
And if you’re spending the day on the lake, you face the threat of drowning. When you gather all these activities into one family gathering, you greatly increase the odds that something bad will happen.
While this holiday can go sideways, with the proper safeguards, you can still enjoy this day with your family. But first, get familiar with the top things to pay attention to.
#1 Fireworks Injuries
Fireworks are illegal in many places for a good reason. They cause thousands of fires yearly, especially in areas with summer droughts. And people with pets and mental health conditions can suffer distress because of these explosions.
But no matter the controversies behind them, these dazzling spectacles aren’t going anywhere.
Of course, starting a blaze isn’t the only mistake that can ruin your July 4th celebration. Many amateurs looking to put on their own show have injured their eyes, face, and hands from improper handling.
The best way to avoid hurting yourself is to leave it to the pros. Head to a local show and enjoy the display from the comfort of a picnic blanket and lawn chair. And if you choose to set some off yourself, follow the directions closely and never light a firework you’re holding in your hand.
Find a safe space in an open area to set them off. Wet the grass around you and keep a garden hose or bucket of water handy in case of fire. And make sure everyone else stays at a safe distance.
#2 Drinking and Driving
Nothing makes watching explosives even more thrilling than your favorite adult beverage. But as soon as you get behind the wheel, you’re a threat to the public.
Drinking and driving is a mistake any day of the year, but it’s much more common on the 4th of July. The easiest way to dodge these incidents is to have a designated driver or enjoy your beverages at home. It’ll also ensure you don’t run into any legal troubles that can put you at risk of losing your license.
However, the danger is still there even if you’re sober. Plenty of other drivers out on the road may have overindulged.
Alcohol is involved in nearly half of all fatal Independence Day accidents. Keep plenty of space between you and other drivers, and watch out for erratic behavior like swerving.
#3 Swimming Mishaps
Drowning is the number one threat to children during summertime celebrations. Emergency room visits from swimming accidents are often more common than fireworks accidents on the fourth. And the majority of them happen in residential pools.
Even a kiddie pool can pose a risk for the youngest members of your family, so make sure everyone has supervision around the water. Remind your loved ones to walk carefully near the edge and ensure no one is diving in shallow water.
Swim lessons can save lives, but even strong swimmers can have accidents. This is especially true in deep waters, like at the lake.
Pack your safety gear if you’re on the boat this Independence Day. Life vests and rings are crucial to protect someone who falls overboard.
#4 Improper Food Handling
One of the easiest mistakes you can make during 4th of July cookouts can lead to a bad bout of food poisoning. Proper food prep is vital to avoid cross-contamination.
Raw meat can be full of bad germs, so make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling it. You’ll also need separate cutting boards and clean utensils for raw fruits and veggies to keep your family healthy.
But that’s not the only way stomach bugs can happen. As temperatures rise, so does the risk.
Potato salad, pasta, salsa, and bean dip are just a few prepared foods that can grow bugs if they’re sitting out of the refrigerator.
If your cookout has gone on for more than a couple of hours, there’s a good chance that some of your food’s been in the danger zone too long. The goal is to keep food below 40 degrees or above 140 to prevent microbes from breeding.
While most cases of food poisoning pass within a day or two, others can be deadly. Keep your food chilled in coolers with plenty of ice, or eat it hot off the grill. This’ll also help you avoid drawing flies to your gathering. And don’t forget to use a thermometer while you grill to check that your meat is safe to eat.
#5 Sun Overexposure
No one wants a nasty sunburn to ruin the festivities. But that’s not the only thing you have to worry about when you spend all day in the heat.
While sun exposure is most dangerous for young children and older folks, heat stroke can be deadly at any age. And alcohol can make exposure even worse.
That’s because you may not notice the symptoms right away. Plus, beer and other spirits will dehydrate you. Symptoms include confusion, rapid breathing, and nausea. You may also stop sweating normally.
Make sure you plan your excursion with plenty of shade breaks and avoid spending too much time outside in the heat of the day.
Pack your sunscreen and apply it every hour or so to protect your skin. Bring plenty of water, and don’t overexert yourself in the heat. You can also use clothing with built-in UV protection to reduce your risk.
Protect Your Family From 4th of July Mistakes
The 4th of July is the height of summer celebrations, but nothing can ruin it quite like one of these common mistakes. But that doesn’t mean you have to put an end to the fun.
You can find plenty of methods to protect your family, including swim lessons, food safety, and practicing moderation. And one of the best ways is to leave the explosions to the professionals. No matter how you choose to celebrate this year, stay safe!
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