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Tips for a Safe Fourth of July for All

SAN FRANCISCO,CA (Tuesday, July 2, 2013) — It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations – fireworks, a backyard barbecue, maybe a trip to the beach. Whatever you have planned, the American Red Cross wants you to follow these tips to stay safe.

FIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. If you are near fireworks, 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.
  • Light only one firework at a time, always wear eye protection and never attempt to relight "a dud."
  • 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 are injured while using charcoal or gas grills, often in their backyards. Follow these steps to safely cook on the barbecue:

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Grill out in the open, away from the house, tree branches, or anything flammable.
  • Use long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • BEACH SAFETY If a visit to the shore includes swimming in the ocean, people should only swim at a lifeguarded beach, within the designated swimming area and obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Other safety tips include:

    1. Keep alert for local weather conditions. Check for warning signs or flags.

    2. Swim sober and always swim with a buddy.

    3. Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

    4. Protect the neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.

    5. Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach.

    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.

    If someone is caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, they should turn and swim toward shore.

    Stay 100 feet away from piers and jetties - permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

    Additional water safety tips are available at

    SUN PROTECTION Sun exposure can cause sunstroke and fatigue. Follow these tips to stay safe.

  • Limit exposure to direct sunlight, particularly from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and reapply sunscreen often.
  • Drink plenty of water even if not thirsty and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight.
  • Protect your feet with sandals or shoes from hot sand and broken glass that may be on the beach.
  • Watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin, changes in consciousness, rapid, weak pulse, or 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.

    Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross first aid app and put expert advice for how to respond to everyday emergencies at your fingertips. The app is available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.