Enjoy Independence Day Celebrations But Do It Safely
Chatham County Safety & Risk Manager Marily Collins reminds everyone of important safey measures for the Fourth of July celebrations. Many of these tips are important all summer long.
FOURTH OF JULY ACTIVITIES
Millions of people will be on the highways over the Fourth of July period. Here are five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:
- Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
- Do not drink and drive.
- Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
- Use caution in work zones.
- Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.
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. Some types of fireworks are illegal in North Carolina and other states. If using fireworks at home, follow these safety steps:
- Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
- Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
- Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
- Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
- Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
- Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
- Many pets are terrified of fireworks.Please keep them inside or on leash away from the fireworks area. Pets can bolt unexpectedly and get lost or hurt.
Every year people in this country are injured while using backyard charcoal or gas grills. Follow these steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:
- Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
- Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
- Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill and hot charcoal dumped on the ground.
- Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
- Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.
BEACH AND LAKE SAFETY
If your holiday includes swimming at a beach or lake, learn how to swim in the waves and only swim at a lifeguarded beach, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Other safety tips include:
- Keep alert for local weather conditions. Check to see if any warning signs or flags are posted.
- Swim sober and always swim with a buddy.
- Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- Protect the neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
- Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults. At the beach, wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
- At the beach, avoid patches of plants and leave sea creatures alone as some have poisonous stings.
- When boating, make sure everyone is wearing a life vest... NO EXCEPTIONS! The boat operators should be sober and know how to handle boats safely.
Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year. Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:
- If someone is caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, they should turn and swim toward shore. If they can't swim to the shore, they should float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
SUN & HEAT PROTECTION
- Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 AM and 4 PM
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often, especially when swimming or if perspiring alot.
- 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 your feet - sand and pavement can burn them. Also, glass and other sharp objects may be hidden in the sand. Finally, sand burs are very painful and frequently found in the grass near oceans.
- Watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:
- Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
- Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
- Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.