Everyone is looking forward to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend and the American Red Cross has steps families can take to stay safe when enjoying the fireworks or taking a trip to the beach, lake or pool.
“Thousands of families in our community are planning to watch fireworks shows or go swimming over the 4th of July weekend and there are steps they can take to have a safe celebration,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional CEO for the American Red Cross in South Carolina. “They can also download our First Aid and Swim Apps to have important safety information wherever they go this holiday weekend.”
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 cities and states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:
• Never give fireworks to small children.
• Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
• Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
• Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
• Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
• Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
BEACH SAFETY If holiday plans include visiting the beach, learn how to swim in the surf. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. While enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Other safety steps include:
• Swim sober and always swim with a buddy. Make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
• Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
• Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
• Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
• Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.
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:
• If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
DOWNLOAD SWIM, FIRST AID APPS The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The app has features specifically designed for children, including a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. It also contains water safety information for parents on a variety of aquatic environments including beaches and water parks. The First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on a variety of situations from insect bites and stings to choking and Hands-Only CPR. People can download the apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in their app store or at redcross.org/apps.
HOME POOL ESSENTIALS COURSE 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.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/SC or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossSC.