Having Fun and Staying Safe This Fourth of July Holiday
With Independence Day around the corner, families are gearing up to make the most of the holiday. Celebrating the 4th of July comes hand-in-hand with many outdoor summer activities – whether it involves throwing something on the grill, heading out on the water, or setting off fireworks.
Here are some popular 4th of July celebrations and how to enjoy them in the best and safest way possible.
Whether it’s in your backyard with the family, at the park, or by the beach, 4th of July celebrations are often synonymous with grilling. June and July are the peak months for summer grilling fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association, a likely result of people welcoming in the warmer weather.
The NFPA recommends not grilling if you are sleepy or drinking alcohol. Many accidents could arise from handling fire, so it is best to stay alert as much as possible. The Red Cross also suggests never grilling indoors — in a house, camper, or tent. Keep it out in the open and away from the house, deck, trees, or any materials that could catch fire.
When it comes to cooking, using long-handled tools is the easiest way for a chef to stay safe. Also, never add charcoal starter fluid when the coals have already been ignited, as it could cause large flames to suddenly burst.
Cooling off by the water, whether next to a pool or at the beach for Independence Day can be as relaxing as it sounds, but take precaution with certain elements, such as the weather. Holiday weather can drastically change from one day to the next, so keep an eye out for weather alerts. If you’re at the beach, keep watch for any flag postings that may advise against swimming. The Red Cross believes swimmers should swim sober and with a friend, and to always have children and inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets or other floating devices.
Rip currents in the ocean waters are responsible for thousands of deaths across the country with North Carolina being the second most dangerous state for them, trailing Florida; according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s important that you pay attention to flags posted at beach entrances and follow rules set by lifeguards. If you’re caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of the current. Once free, turn and swim toward the shore.
Sunscreen is also vital when swimming or just relaxing out in the sun. Wearing at least SPF 15 and sunglasses that capture 100 percent of UV light can go a long way. So too can limiting exposure to the direct sunlight of mid-day. Be sure to reapply the sunscreen as needed.
Regardless of the outdoor activity, stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids (while avoiding caffeine), even if you’re not thirsty. Be aware of signs of heat stroke during weather that is warmer than usual: hot and red skin, changes in consciousness, and rapid, or sometimes weak, shallow breathing.
4th of July is a great time to cast off and celebrate on the open water. The U.S. Coast Guard urges all boaters to wear a life jacket when they’re out in the water and make sure that the boat is well equipped, and everything is functioning properly.
If you are operating the vessel, alcohol should not be part of the equation. Drinking may decrease your ability to make sound decisions and jeopardize yourself and the passengers on board, leading to a potential boating accident.
Be prepared for any emergency by familiarizing yourself with the boat, and its emergency exists, life jackets and fire extinguisher locations. With a friend, family member or even a neighbor, you should always file a Float Plan – a detailed itinerary of where you’re going, who’s onboard, what your boat looks like, and when you plan to be back. Should an emergency occur, they can provide the plan to the Coast Guard for help.
Independence Day is nothing without a firework show.
North Carolina restricts fireworks pretty heavily. It is illegal to have many fireworks including firecrackers, spinners, roman candles, bottle rockets, or any aerial fireworks. Those that are legal include poppers, sparklers, fountains and other novelty items that don’t explode, spin or fly.
If you are planning to set off fireworks at your home, make sure you never give them to small children. If you do, supervise at all times. Even as an adult, it’s important to have someone nearby in the event of a mishap.
Never throw or point fireworks at people, animals, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials. Light one firework at a time and refrain from relighting a “dud”. Also, keep water nearby as a precaution.
Most of us tend to go see a bigger, better public show. Although they’re organized by trained professionals, you should still take your own safety measures. Always stay at least 500 feet away from the pyrotechnics and carry the proper hearing protection for small children.
Overall, you can have a lot of fun with fireworks and top off a great Independence Day celebration without you or a loved one sustaining injuries from a firework accident – as long as you’re safe. In the event you are injured, it’s important that you speak with an attorney who has experience handling firework injury cases. Our representatives are available 24/7 and the case consultation is always free. No matter where you are in North Carolina, we’ve got injury lawyers in Raleigh and injury lawyers in Jacksonville.