The U.S. turns 241 years old this July, which is a great reason to get out and join the fun. July 4 is a day to celebrate freedom and spend time with your family. It’s not a time for mishaps that could rain on your parade.
Whether you’re planning a day out in the sunshine, or want to light up the event with fireworks, Independence Day can be safe and fun for everyone if you keep these six relatively simple tips in mind to protect yourself and your family…
1. Drive a Boat of Confidence
Many Americans elect to take to the water during July 4 to watch the festivities offshore. While there are few things greater than taking your family out in a pleasure craft and watching the fireworks trail across the sky, boating also carries a certain amount of risk.
Ensure there are enough life jackets on board for each passenger, regardless of swimming skill. If you’re driving the boat, ensure you haven’t consumed alcohol beforehand or during the excursion (you need all of your wits about you navigating the open water, and it’s also illegal in many areas).
2. Don’t Get Smoked by Fireworks
The National Council on Fireworks Safety says there’s an increasing amount of fireworks injuries from using them improperly for the sake of a video to post on social media. The organization encourages parents to help youth prioritize safety over producing a “viral” video.
The group advises to light just one firework at a time and immediately move back from it, and don’t try to re-light it if it seems to be a “dud”, noted the council. Make sure the lights show is not around power lines, cars or homes, and keep a water source nearby in case of a mishap.
3. Have Safe Fun in the Sun
Being out at a parade or another outdoor celebration during the day can easily distract you from realizing you’re getting too much sun. Children are especially at risk because they sometimes can’t vocalize being overheated or feeling burnt.
The Massachusetts government website suggests applying sunscreen 30-minutes before heading outdoors. Don’t forget that sunglasses to protect eyes are just as important as reducing the risk of skin cancer from powerful UV rays.
4. Be Selective with Street Food
While most street food vendors are perfectly safe (at least according to Health.com), you may want to consider bringing a picnic meal with you to enjoy during the July 4 celebrations. Find a nice shady spot to sit with the family to enjoy some homemade grub.
If you’re in the mood for someone else to make your food, look for food carts/trucks that seem to be busy, and observe their food handling practices if possible. It might also be wise to bring bottled or filtered water from home, rather than asking for water from an unknown source. Make sure the food truck is licensed, adds Health.com.
5. Don’t Unleash Fear on Your Pets
Pets are members of the family (at least to most owners), so you should keep their safety in mind as well. PetMD.com notes that pets are more sensitive to loud noises and bright lights than humans are because of their heightened senses.
The article notes that July 4 celebrations often result in high numbers of pets winding up in animal shelters, because overstimulation can cause them to run free and end up getting lost, hurt…or killed. Make sure you leave you pet at home if possible, and that it has proper identification on a collar. At the very least keep them leashed.
6. Don’t Invite Pests to the Party
Not just humans love being out in the heat – bugs love it too. And some of those pests can end up ruining a fun family outing, whether it’s from a bee sting, or bites from mosquitoes or ticks (which can lead to bigger problems if not properly inspected).
Insect repellant containing lower concentrations of DEET may be the best defense against ticks that can cause Lyme Disease (and other pests), according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. It also notes that re-applications throughout the day may be necessary due to short protection spans.