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Red Cross 4th of July Safety Tips

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THURSDAY, JULY 2ND — The long Fourth of July holiday weekend is just ahead and the American Red Cross has steps you can follow to stay safe when enjoying the fireworks or taking a trip to the beach.


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 you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.



BEACH AND SWIM SAFETY
If your holiday plans include swimming, swim only at a beach or pool with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. While you’re enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. And even if you’re confident in your swimming skills, make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore or a ladder.

Other swim safety tips include:

  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
  • 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.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water like rivers and lakes. Colder temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

 

Additional water safety tips are in the free Red Cross Swim App and available at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety.

 

 

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:

{C}§  {C}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.

{C}§  {C}Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

 


SUN PROTECTION

Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply your sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. And don’t forget your feet! The ground can burn your feet 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 you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke:

  • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
  • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

 

FIRST AID APP

Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

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 or visit us on Twitter at @ARC_EasternPA.