June 27, 2014: It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations – fireworks, a backyard barbecue, maybe a trip to the beach. Whatever people have planned, the American Red Cross wants them to enjoy their holiday and has steps they can follow to be safe.
FIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, they should follow these safety steps:
GRILLING SAFETY Every year people in this country are injured while using backyard charcoal or gas grills. Follow these steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:
BEACH SAFETY If someone’s visit to the shore includes swimming in the ocean, they should learn how to swim in the surf and only swim at a lifeguarded beach, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Other safety tips include:
RIP CURRENTS Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:
SWIMMING SAFETY Learning to swim is one of the best steps someone can take to be safe around water. People can contact their local Red Cross chapter and learn how to swim as well as get the facts about water safety, home pool safety and first aid and CPR classes. Other swimming safety tips include:
• Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
• Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
• Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water. Do not rely on life jackets alone; flotation devices are no substitute for learning to swim.
• Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching equipment or tossable rescue and flotation equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
• Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
POOL SAFETY It’s important to constantly supervise children when they are near water. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water. Avoid distractions when supervising children around water. If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
The Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF) have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, and how to respond to an emergency.
Additional water safety tips are available at redcross.org/watersafetytips
SUN PROTECTION Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. Protect the feet - the sand can burn them and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.
During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:
DOWNLOAD OUR APPS Another thing you can do is download the free Red Cross first aid and swim apps which puts expert advice at your fingertips. The apps are available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.