Taking precautions and using good judgment can help people avoid a trip to the emergency room this Fourth of July weekend. The commemoration of Independence Day is marked by fireworks displays, travel and cookouts. Unfortunately, accidents that result in serious injuries or death are a common side-effect of Fourth of July celebrations.

Fireworks Are Fun but Risky

People often celebrate Independence Day with fireworks at home and at organized events. Even when used as directed, however, fireworks may cause burns and other serious injuries. During the month around the holiday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that fireworks-related injuries send an average of 280 people per day to the emergency room. Firecrackers, sparklers, and bottle rockets cause most of these injuries.

It is always best to leave setting off fireworks to the professionals. If people decide to use legally purchased fireworks on their own, they should only be ignited by adults or older children who are supervised. Additionally, people should keep a garden hose or bucket of water close by in case of a fire or other emergency when using fireworks. They should douse spent devices before discarding them. Fireworks should never be aimed at people. Those who light fireworks should move back to a safe distance immediately after igniting them to help avoid serious burns or other injuries.

Sparklers Are not for Kids

As the sun sets on the Fourth of July, parents often give their children sparklers to celebrate. These seemingly harmless sticks can cause serious injuries. The National Safety Council points out that sparklers burn at approximately 2,000 degrees. Sparklers themselves or the sparks they throw off may ignite clothing and leave serious burns if they come into contact with children’s skin. Parents are advised not to let children play with sparklers. If they do, however, they should ensure their kids hold them away from their faces, hair, and clothing.

More Cars on the Road, More Chances for Accidents

Many people travel over the Fourth of July holiday. Over Independence Day weekend, it is estimated that 85% of travelers drive to get to their destinations. More vehicles on the roads increase the risk for auto collisions. Nothing dampers the excitement of a summer trip like a breakdown or a collision.

In addition to conducting regular maintenance throughout the year, Fourth of July travelers should conduct pre-trip inspections. Checking the tires for signs of wear and air pressure, ensuring all of the lights are working properly, making sure the coolant and other fluid levels are adequate, inspecting all of the belts and hoses, and checking the air conditioner performance before hitting the road takes time, but these steps can help prevent serious issues once Independence Day travelers are on their way.

Alcohol Should Be Part of the Celebration, Not the Ride Home

Drinking and driving raises the risk of accidents, but it may be even more dangerous over the holiday when there are more vehicles on the roads. People may experience numerous impairments as a result of drinking beverages that contain alcohol, including the following:

  • Slowed reflexes
  • Decreased coordination
  • Lowered alertness
  • Release of inhibitions
  • Difficulty detecting danger

To help protect themselves and others from drunk driving accidents on the Fourth of July, people should refrain from drinking if they are planning to drive or make other travel arrangements if they plan to partake in alcoholic beverages.

Water Fun Requires Supervision

The summer heat is nearing its peak over Independence Day weekend, leading many to seek respite in swimming pools, at water parks, and in the local lakes. Unfortunately, accidents, particularly those involving children and people who cannot swim, occur all too often during the holiday. In fact, an average of 19 children drown each year over the Fourth of July, according to the National Security Council.

Whether they are watching their kids swim, enjoying the water with other adults, or both, people are advised to be mindful when they are in or near the water. Parents should ensure their kids are always supervised. It is also recommended that people refrain from mixing alcohol consumption with water activities.

Watch Out for More than Burnt Burgers

Fourth of July festivities often involve cooking out with friends and family, but if not used properly, grills and BBQs pose serious hazards. The National Parks Service reports that approximately 8,200 fires result from grilling and barbecuing each year. These fires cause serious injuries and death. To avoid grilling accidents, people should refrain from using outdoor grills or BBQs inside. They should keep grills away from their houses and deck railings. Only charcoal lighter fluid should be used on charcoal. Lighter fluid should never be added to a fire that is already lit.