Fourth of July Safety Tips

With 4th of July celebrations starting tomorrow and likely running through the weekend, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. Whether it's specific food concerns for allergy sufferers, keeping your pets in mind, maintaining a safe grille or just keeping your health in mind, there are a variety of things you can do to ensure a safe and happy holiday.

  • Fireworks – Fireworks are great to go and see with the family on a clear summer night. Check your local newspaper or news report for local time and dates for displays in your area. Setting off fireworks yourself is a common thing to do, and while local laws in most states prohibit this, if you were to theoretically set off fireworks, keep a few things in mind. Keep water handy. Keep them away from children and pets. In general, be careful. For the most part, fireworks, particular large fireworks are designed for use by professionals, but regardless of who is using them, keep in mind that they are dangerous. Please, treat them with the respect they deserve. Nothing ruins a 4th quicker than a run to the emergency room.
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  • GrillingGrilling and Firework Accidents = Loss of EyebrowsMuch like fireworks can cause an accidental fire, so too can grilles. Grills should be placed away from the house or any structure where fire is a concern. Be mindful of what is overhead as well (ie. low tree limbs). Grills are hot, and small children and pets don't always know this, so try to keep both away from the grill if possible. Lastly, keep some water on hand. It is not unheard of for a smoldering charcoal grill to actually cause a house fire hours after your get together has ended. Oh, and take it easy on the lighter fluid. No one looks good without eyebrows.
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  • Food Safety – If you know family members or friends are going to show up to your event, make arrangements ahead of time to ensure allergies or dietary restrictions do not leave with nothing to eat. On a similar note, keep the meat thermometer handy and cook meats to their proper temperature, and keep all foods cold until you plan on serving or cooking them. Some food can be precooked to cut down on prep & cooking time prior to your cookout. Though they may seem trivial, just a few simple steps like these can help you and your guests avoid a late night rendezvous with a stomach pump.
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  • Travel – Whether traveling by car, plain or even a train, be sure to allot yourself enough time to get to your destination should minor hiccups slow you down. While major events like an automobile accident can shut down an interstate for hours, plan ahead to avoid minor delays, like forgetting to pack something. Check with your local airport about security check wait times and if any flights are delayed. Then, plan accordingly. Allowing for extra time, whether driving or flying, is never a bad idea.
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  • Pets – As a part of the family, don't forget about your pets during the revelry. If outdoors, ensure they have plenty of fresh water and shade. Temperatures have been at historic highs this summer, so ensure they can remain cool should not be forgotten. Keep them away from grills, campfires, citronella candles, and ultimately, it may be best to leave them at home instead of having them tag along to a local fireworks display. Most animals are not comfortable with the noise and crowds that come with fireworks.
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  • Sun and Heat – These two things have been simply brutal for much of the country over the last two weeks. When outdoors, please use sunscreen and take advantage of shade. Make sure there is plenty of water to go around and a place where those who have had enough of the heat can go to cool off. Hats, sunglasses, and loose fitting clothes can all be helpful in reducing exposure to the sun.
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  • Alcohol – For many it's part of any celebration or event, but don't overdo it. Not only can alcohol speed the process of dehydration, drinking and driving or boating is illegal and extremely dangerous. If you have to travel, be sure to choose a DD ahead of time, and as a good general rule, alcohol and fireworks are often NOT the winning combination.

_Many of these tips are second nature, but it never hurts to mention these during big holidays or events. Stay safe, have fun, and I hope everyone has a great Independence Day!

_Author: Kevin Gilmore

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