Connie Colbert, GCU Director of Health Services
By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services
With the Fourth of July just a few weeks away, there is never a better time to get prepared to keep you and your family safe.
According to healthychildren.org (2021), “Lighting fireworks in the back yard or nearby field might seem like a festive way to entertain the kids. However, thousands of people — most of them children, teens and young adults — are injured each year while using fireworks. Most of these injuries happen in the month around the Fourth of July.”
July is also one of the peak months for grilling fires. Included in the list below are measures used for prevention of these fires.
- Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before using or buying them.
- Only light fireworks on the ground and in areas that are dry and fire-resistant.
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks or sparklers to prevent firework-related injuries.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities, and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers alone account for one-quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
- If you set off fireworks, keep a bucket of water handy in case of malfunction or fire.
- If fireworks malfunction, don’t relight them! Do soak them with water then throw away.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one that is glass or metal.
- Use your grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under branches or overhangs.
- Open your gas grill before lighting
- Check gas grill hoses for cracks, holes, and leaks.
- Keep children away from grills. Gas leaks, blocked tubes and propane tanks can be a cause of grill fires and explosions.
- Never grill indoors, in the garage, in any enclosed area or on a surface that might catch fire.
- Keep the grill at least 2 feet away from decks, siding, branches and any outdoor equipment that can catch fire quickly.
- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below your gas or propane grill so it cannot be ignited.
- Declare a 3-foot “kid- and pet-free zone” around the grill to keep them safe.
- Avoid loose clothing that can catch fire when cooking on the grill.
(Fire tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Additional reminders to keep the holiday safe:
- Use alcohol responsibly: Alcohol is often a factor in many Fourth of July festivities and can be a dangerous combination with fireworks. Use cautiously and always be sure to have a designated driver.
- Swim sober and always swim with a buddy.
- Don’t forget sun protection: Limit exposure of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protectant factor of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often.
- Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if you are not thirsty.
- If you are doing activities outside, watch for signs of heat stroke — hot, red skin; changes in breathing; rapid, weak pulse. If these are noticed, apply cool wet cloths and lie down or have the person lie down.
- Be cautious of food and beverages being left outdoors: According to the Food and Drug Administration, you should never leave food out for more than one hour when temperatures reach above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and no more than two hours for lower summer temperatures.
- If you have pets, make sure they are safe and secure. Many pets get startled and run away because of the noisy fireworks and celebrations.
Have a fun, but SAFE, Fourth of July!