Amarillo, TX, June 28, 2013 — 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.
“We want everyone to have a great holiday, and a safe one,” said Steve Pair, Executive Director of the Texas Panhandle and Eastern Texas Panhandle Chapters. “Whether the weekend will involve fireworks, grilling or going to the seashore, we have safety tips everyone can follow.”
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. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, they should 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.
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:
• Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
• Never grill indoors – not in your 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.
• Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.
SWIMMING SAFETY Swimming is the most popular summer activity. The best thing you can do to help your family stay safe is to enroll in age-appropriate swim lessons.
Follow these safety tips whenever you are in, on or around water:
• Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
• 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!
• Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
• 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 including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold 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.
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:
• 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.
DOWNLOAD 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. The app is available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.
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 @RedCross.