Posted by Scott Stueber
On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. This great document declared our independence from Great Britain. Since then the Fourth of July has been a federal holiday, allowing us to enjoy time with our families, friends, neighbors, and pets.
Common traditions include fireworks, barbeques, picnics, concerts, and political speeches and ceremonies. To ensure this is a fun, safe, and enjoyable holiday for you and your family, I share these safety tips.
- If you experience bad weather while grilling, never move the grill indoors, including your garage. Wait until the weather has passed to continue grilling. Also, a grill should be kept at least ten feet from your home, cottage, or camper.
- If you need to get your LP tank filled for the weekend, make sure you transport it in a safe, upright position. Do not leave your filled tank in your vehicle or its trunk, especially if it’s sunny and hot. I have an SUV so I use the hooks that are in the back, as well as a ratchet strap, to keep it standing upright.
- If the flame goes out, never try to re-ignite it right away. Turn off the gas, open your grill cover, and let it ventilate for at least 15 minutes. Propane is heavier than air and does not immediately dissipate into the air.
- If you are spending the holiday with your children around a pool or spa, always keep watch. If multiple adults are present, designate one of them to watch the children for a designated amount of time and then rotate. This technique will prevent lapses in supervision.
- Don’t rely on fun toys, such as water wings or noodles, to keep your children safe. If your child can’t swim, fit him or her with the appropriate personal floatation device (PFD).
- Have these items close by at all times when you or your family are using a pool or spa: portable telephone, first aid kit, flotation device, and a pair of scissors to cut hair, clothing, or a pool cover if needed.
- Make sure you have plenty of sun screen and aloe lotion – According to the American Academy of Dermatology, dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. An SPF of 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s rays. Higher SPFs can block slightly more of the sun’s rays but no sunscreen can block 100%. It is recommended that sun screen be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure, then every two hours or after swimming or sweating. If you have water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen, it can provide 40-80 minutes of protection while in the water.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Alcohol, sun exposure, and caffeine can lead to dehydration. Make the most out of your holiday by alternating alcoholic drinks with water. If you do experience dehydration (dizziness, weakness, confusion, muscle spasms, passing out, or dark urine), make sure you drink a large glass of ice water.
- If your pets are enjoying the holiday with you, make sure you keep them on their normal diets. Giving your pets party food can lead to severe indigestion and diarrhea. There are a number of foods that can be toxic and potentially deadly. These foods include onions, chocolate, coffee, grapes, and raisins.
- If your pets don’t like thunderstorms, don’t take them to a fireworks show. Keep them in a safe, quiet, and secure location.
- If you buy your child glow jewelry at your local parade or fireworks show, make sure that if they wear it around their necks, it is loose fitting. Also, make sure they don’t bite into the jewelry.
- Promote fireworks safety with your family and friends. Most of the injuries incurred affect people’s hands and faces.
- After fireworks burnout, toss them in a bucket of water or spray them off with a hose. Pay special attention to sparklers, which seem like one of the safest fireworks but burn at a temperature close to 2,000 degrees. If your child drops a sparkler, tell them to leave it on the ground because it is hard to tell which end is safe to pick up. Spray the sparkler immediately to put it out.
- If you are lighting fireworks that launch into the sky, make sure they are secured. I’ll never forget when my brother’s fireworks shot into my aunt’s garage, almost taking out Grandma. Also, be respectful of your neighbor’s property. I do not like finding firework fragments on my roof the next day.
- Don’t drink and drive!
Happy Fourth of July!