This Fourth of July weekend, many people will be traveling, swimming at the beach or in the pool, firing up the backyard grill or enjoying fireworks, and the American Red Cross offers a series of steps everyone can follow to safely enjoy the holiday weekend.
“Everyone looks forward to having fun over the Fourth of July, and the Red Cross wants to make sure people know how to stay safe while enjoying the holiday,” said Nancy Blaschak, Western New York/Finger Lakes Regional CEO.
A recent Red Cross survey found that eight out of ten Americans are planning water activities such as going to the beach, pool, water park, or boating or fishing this summer. A third (32 percent) of all Americans plan to swim at a place without a lifeguard. The Red Cross has launched an anti-drowning campaign this summer that promotes swim lessons and safe swimming.
- Learn to swim and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. If swimming at the beach check weather conditions before going in the water.
- Always swim with a buddy and always swim sober
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on them alone.
- Provide close constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the 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. If a child is missing, check the water first.
- At beaches, be aware of the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. When free, turn and swim toward the shore. If unable to swim to the shore, call out for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
- Wear beach shoes at the beach. The sand is hot and can burn someone’s feet and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.
- Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
- Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers including four-sided fencing.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
HIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. The Red Cross offers these five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:
- Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
- Do not drink and drive.
- Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
- Use caution in work zones.
- Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.
FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting fireworks off at home:
- Never give fireworks to small children, and 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."
- Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:
- Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
- Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
- Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
- Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
- Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
DOWNLOAD FREE FIRST AID APP The Red Cross has a free Red Cross First Aid App to put expert advice for everyday emergencies at their fingertips. The app is available for smart phones and tablets and can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.
FREE SWIM AND FIRST AID APPS Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross Swim and First Aid Apps. Swim App users can learn water safety and drowning prevention information for a variety of aquatic environments. Children can have fun learning water safety tips with the child-friendly videos and quizzes in the app. The First Aid App puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. The apps are available for smart phones and tablets and can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores. The Swim App is also available in the Amazon Kindle Store.
HOME POOL ESSENTIALS The Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials (HomePoolEssentials.org) 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.
More water safety information is available at redcross.org.