Dr. Campbell: Fourth of July safety

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Tomorrow is the Fourth of July and many of us will be celebrating outside with friends and family. However, many experts consider July Fourth to be one of the most dangerous holidays of the year.

The National Safety Council estimates that there will be 385 deaths and 41,200 injuries — including car crashes, swimming incidents and fireworks accidents — this Fourth of July. In 2014, there were eight deaths and 11,400 injuries from fireworks mishaps alone.

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1. What are the most common injuries seen during Fourth of July celebrations?

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. 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 crashes. July Fourth 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 car crashes on July Fourth are alcohol-related.

In addition, sunburn can be a real concern for the Fourth of July. 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.

2. What are some specific safety tips relating to fireworks?

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:

• Keep kids away from the fireworks
• Keep a fire extinguisher handy
• 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.

3. What about water safety on July Fourth?

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.

4. Any final safety tips?

Please be sure to use alcohol responsibly. Many incidents 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 Fourth holiday this week.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.

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