As we approach the July 4th holiday, millions of Americans will be outside and celebrating. Many celebrations include fireworks, sunbathing and water activities.
Biggest Health Risks
The most common injuries seen on July 4th are fireworks-related injuries and water sports injuries. In a survey conducted by the federal government last year, it was found that 65 percent of all fireworks-related injuries occur in the days surrounding the holiday.
Last year, there were four deaths and over 9,600 injuries related to fireworks. The most common injuries were burns and the most common age group was 20-44 year olds.
More severe injuries included damage to the eyes, resulting in blindness. Other common mishaps include grilling injuries, alcohol-related injuries and vehicle accidents. July 4th is ranked one of the deadliest driving days of the year. On average there are 144 driving-related fatalities each year. About 10 percent of these deaths are teens. Nearly 50 percent are alcohol-related.
In addition, sunburn can be a real concern. Apply sunscreen both before and during an outdoor party. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause both premature aging and skin cancer in the long term, and a painful burn the next day.
Beach safety tips
If someone’s visit to the beach includes swimming in the ocean, they should learn how to swim in the surf and only swim at a life-guarded beach, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
Other safety tips include:
1. Keep alert for local weather conditions.
2. Check to see if any warning signs or flags are posted.
3. Swim sober and always swim with a buddy.
4. Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
5. Supervise kids at ALL times
If you are swimming in a pool or in an area where you do not know the water, be sure to protect your neck and spine– don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Make sure the children – and even adults – always have a life jacket on when in the water or on a motorized water vehicle (boat, jet ski, etc.)
Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water. Be aware of rip currents and pay attention to all weather and beach alerts.
Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. Protect the feet – the sand can burn them and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show.
Check your local laws and regulations to make sure that your fireworks are allowable by law. If you are going to launch your own fireworks please observe a few safety guidelines:
1. Keep kids away from the fireworks
2. Keep a fire extinguisher handy
3. Store the fireworks in a safe place
4. Please remember that even sparklers can be dangerous. Did you know that he tips of sparklers burn at a temperature hot enough to melt gold?
Because the risk of injuries when using fireworks is so high, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports a nationwide ban on the private use of any and all fireworks.
According to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the hands and fingers receive 41percent of the injuries associated with fireworks, followed by heads, faces and ears with 19 percent, trunks with 15 percent, legs with 13 percent, eyes with 12 percent and arms with 1 percent. Over half of these injuries were minor to severe burns. Firecrackers (23 percent), bottle rockets (12 percent) and sparklers (12 percent) are the primary types of fireworks that resulted in injury.
Alcohol safety tips
Please be sure to use alcohol responsibly. Many accidents occur when judgment is impaired by alcohol. Certainly do not combine water sports with drinking and absolutely do not drink and drive. Please designate a driver and have a happy and healthy July 4th holiday this week.