As we get ready to celebrate Independence Day, many of us plan to attend fireworks displays, a backyard picnic, or perhaps enjoy fun at the beach. The American Red Cross offers these tips so you can enjoy a fun-packed, safe holiday.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public firework show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks. If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:
- Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. 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.
- Wash your hands before preparing the food.
- Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs.
- If you are going to cook on the grill, never grill indoors. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
- Always supervise the grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
- Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
Watch the weather and get out of the water at the first sign of lightning or the rumble of thunder. Stay indoors and away from water for 30 minutes after the last lightning flashes or thunder roars.
Plan ahead for aquatic activities:
- Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local condition
- Always designate a “water watcher” whose sole responsibility is to keep a close eye and constant attention on everyone in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over
- Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
- Protect your neck – don’t dive in headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
- If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Then, turn and swim to shore. If you can't swim to shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore. Draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
Download the free Red Cross First Aid and Swim apps for instant access to safety tips.