Dr. Kevin Campbell: Fourth of July safety

FILE - In this Friday, July 4, 2014 file photo, fireworks light up the lower Manhattan skyline during the Macy's Annual Fourth of July fireworks show in New York. On Tuesday, July 30, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency said children, older adults, and people with heart disease, asthma or other lung diseases are considered to be particularly sensitive to particle pollution. The agency recommended that they limit their exposure by watching fireworks from upwind. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Each year families and friends gather on the Fourth of July to celebrate our nation’s independence. Each year, thousands of children and adults are treated in emergency rooms for Fourth of July activity-related injuries—many of which are preventable.

The most common injuries seen on the Fourth of July 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 age 20-44.  More severe injuries included damage to the eyes resulting in blindness.

Other common mishaps include grilling injuries, alcohol-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents. Fourth of July is ranked as the deadliest driving day of the year. On average there are 144 driving-related fatalities each year on the Fourth of July. Ten percent of these deaths are teens. Nearly 50 percent of motor vehicle accidents on the Fourth of July are alcohol-related.

In addition, sunburn can be a real concern. It’s important to remember that you should 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.

The best advice I can give you is to leave the fireworks to the pros. 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

Please remember that even sparklers can be dangerous. The 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. Instead, families should attend public fireworks displays, which are much less dangerous.

Certainly when it comes to swimming, make sure that you swim with a buddy, and carefully watch children. It only takes a few minutes for a child to get into trouble in the water. If you are at the beach, swim in areas with a lifeguard and be aware of rip currents and how to swim out of them. Drowning can occur quickly—always designate a chaperone to watch the kids in the water and do not assume that someone else is watching.

Also very important – 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 Fourth of July holiday.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter. If there’s a topic you’d like to see Dr. Campbell cover, let us know by sending an email to newstips@wncn.com.

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