The Fourth of July is one of America’s most cherished holidays. It’s a time to celebrate our nation’s independence with barbecues, fireworks, and family and friends. But while the celebrations are fun, they can also be dangerous. As we celebrate our country’s independence, let’s also remember to stay safe. Whether you’re spending time at home, heading out to a fireworks show, or going on a trip with the family, these Fourth of July safety tips should help ensure a fun and worry-free holiday.
Fireworks are a Fourth of July staple, but they can also be dangerous. Not only can you get hurt by a wayward firework, but you can also start a fire if you’re not careful. To stay safe while using fireworks:
1. Only use fireworks that are legal in your state or county. Obviously, if you light up an illegal firework, you’re risking getting in trouble with the law. But more importantly, some fireworks are simply too dangerous to be used without professional supervision.
2. Never try to make your own fireworks. No matter how safe you think you’re being, it’s never worth the risk. The best Fourth of July safety tip is to not handle fireworks at all. It’d be a lot safer if you just watch the display. However, if you insist on using fireworks, buy from a reputable source. And always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
3. Have an adult supervise fireworks activities, especially if children are present. Kids are often fascinated by fireworks, but they don’t always understand the dangers. It’s important to have someone around who can keep an eye on things and make sure everyone stays safe.
4. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection. Even a small firework can cause serious eye injuries. Wearing goggles or other protective eyewear will help safeguard against this.
5. Don’t wear loose clothing while using fireworks. Even a small spark can cause your clothes to catch fire. So, it’s best to wear something that’s not too loose but not too tight to make you sweat buckets.
6. Be extra careful with sparklers. They may look harmless, but they can actually be quite dangerous, especially for kids. Each year, thousands of people are injured by sparklers. Children under five years old are at a higher risk because they might not understand how to handle them properly. The best Fourth of July safety tip is to not give sparklers to young children at all. If you must, make sure an adult is supervising them closely. And when you’re done with them, throw them away immediately.
7. Make sure there’s a designated fire watch person. This person should be responsible for making sure all used fireworks are properly disposed of and that no fires start. Of course, it’d be great if all the adults in the group will do their share in keeping everyone safe. As for the kids, if they find a used firework or see a fire starting, they should immediately tell an adult. Don’t stop to take a selfie.
8. Keep a hose or bucket of water handy. Attach your hose to the faucet and fill buckets with water. If you have a fire extinguisher, which you should, keep it nearby, too. In case of a fire, you’ll want to have all possible ways to quickly put it out.
9. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets. Once you’ve bought your fireworks, it’s important to store them properly. Keep them in a cool, dry place where kids and pets can’t get to them. A locked cabinet would be ideal.
10. Fireproof your home. Close all the doors and windows in your house to prevent fireworks and embers from getting inside and starting a fire. Doing so will also keep smoke out. Fourth of July celebrations usually involve a lot of smoke, whether it’s from the barbecue or the fireworks. If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, it’s best to stay indoors as much as possible.
Fourth of July fireworks or not, you should have a smoke detector and fire alarm system installed in your home. Prepare some fire blankets, too. If you have a two-story home, you should have a fire ladder. Keep it near an open window so you can quickly get out in case of a fire.
11. Never point or throw fireworks at another person or at animals. This should be obvious, but unfortunately, there are always a few idiots every year who think it’s funny to do this. Just don’t. It’s not only dangerous, but it’s also rude and inconsiderate. Don’t point them towards your home, buildings, piles of garbage, or other things that may catch fire.
12. Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly. You don’t want to be standing too close when they go off. Don’t hang around to see what happens. Just light it and go. Also, make sure to keep a safe distance, especially when lighting larger fireworks. Defective fireworks might blow up too fast so it’s better to use a long lighter or a long-handled match so you have some space between you and the firework.
13. Never try to relight or pick up a “dud” firework. If a firework doesn’t go off, give it a few minutes and then douse it with water before disposing of it. Trying to relight it is just asking for trouble.
14. Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix. Don’t drink alcohol if you’re handling fireworks. This Fourth of July safety tip is especially important if you’re the designated fire watch person. You need to be alert and not distracted in case something happens.
15. Be prepared for emergencies. Keep a first-aid kit handy and know how to use it. If someone gets injured, you’ll want to be able to treat them right away. It’s also a good idea to have the number of your local emergency services on hand in case you need to call them.
Barbecues are another Fourth of July staple, but it also comes with their own set of safety risks. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while grilling this Fourth of July:
16. Check the grill for leaks before using it. Make sure the hoses are in good condition and there are no cracks or holes. To check if your grill is okay, pour a little bit of soapy water onto the hoses and look for any bubbles. If you see any bubbles, that means there’s a leak and the grill is not safe to use.
17. Make sure to keep your grill clean. Built-up grease and fat can cause fires. It’s also a good idea to clean your grill days before your Fourth of July barbecue party.
18. Don’t put the grill too close to the house or anything else that can catch fire. Place your grill well away from trees, bushes, or deck railings. Make sure to clean up the yard of dried leaves and other flammable materials before setting up the grill. Also, don’t grill indoors. This should be obvious enough but there have been incidents of people grilling inside their homes and causing fires.
19. Use the right type of fuel for your grill. If you’re using a charcoal grill, make sure to use charcoal starter fluid and not gasoline or lighter fluid. Gasoline is highly flammable and can cause an explosion. Lighter fluid can give your food a weird flavor and it’s also dangerous. If you’re using a charcoal grill, there are other ways to get the coals lit. You can use a chimney starter or an electric charcoal starter.
20. Use a solar oven. If you’re worried about the safety of using a grill, you can always cook your food in a solar oven. Solar ovens use the power of the sun to cook food. They’re safe, easy to use, and they don’t require any fuel.
21. Be careful with fireworks. Grill as far as possible from where you keep and light the fireworks. Flying sparks or embers from the grill can ignite them so be doubly careful.
22. Don’t leave the grill unattended. If you have to leave for any reason, turn off the grill first. It only takes a few minutes for a fire to start and spread so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can also ask someone else, a responsible adult preferably who hasn’t been drinking, to look after the grill while you’re gone. An unattended grill may result in a fire that could ruin your Fourth of July celebration. Or worse, your steaks and burgers will be burnt beyond recognition.
23. Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergencies. Fire extinguishers are the best way to put out a grill fire. If you have a grill fire, aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the flames and press the button. Sweep the extinguisher from side to side until the flames are extinguished. If the fire is too big or if you can’t put it out with the extinguisher, call the fire department right away.
24. Keep children and pets away from the grill. They should be at least 3 feet away from the grill to stay safe. Make sure the kids understand the dangers of fire and how they can get hurt by going near a lit grill.
25. Don’t wear loose clothing. Similar to handling fireworks, loose clothing can catch fire easily so it’s best to avoid wearing it while grilling. If you must wear loose clothing, make sure to tie it back or tuck it in so that it doesn’t come into contact with the flames.
26. Be careful with how you dispose of used charcoal. It can stay hot for hours after you’re done grilling, and can easily start a fire if not disposed of properly.
General Fourth of July Safety Tips
Whatever plans you have, it’s best to always be on the side of caution. There are other things you should watch out for aside from the fireworks and the grill. Here are more Fourth of July safety tips that everyone should keep in mind:
27. Keep an eye on the kids, especially if you’re going out to join the festivities. Fourth of July celebrations can be a lot of fun – but they can also be chaotic when you have to watch over your children. It’s also a good idea to have a designated meeting spot in case anyone gets lost – that way, you can quickly reunite if anyone wanders off.
28. Keep your distance from the fireworks. If you’re attending a public fireworks display, stay at least 500 feet away from the action. And if you have young children with you, be extra cautious – fireworks can be very loud, and the noise can damage their hearing.
29. Be wary of the weather. Fourth of July celebrations usually involve outdoor activities so it’s important to check the weather forecast. If the weather is bad, it’s best to cancel or postpone the event. Severe weather conditions can cause accidents and injuries.
30. Have a plan. Whether you’re celebrating at home or attending a public event, it’s important to have a plan. This Fourth of July, make sure you know what you’re doing and where you’re going. That way, you can avoid any stressful situations.
31. Avoid heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a condition that can occur when you’re exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, and headache. When outdoors, you can prevent heat exhaustion by wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Stay in a shaded area so you won’t be directly under the sun, and use handheld misting fans for quick relief from the heat.
32. Stay hydrated. It’s Fourth of July – which means it’s going to be hot! The day will also likely involve a lot of physical activity – from grilling to playing games to watching fireworks. That’s why it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. When outdoors, bring water bottles or hydration packs so you don’t have to look for stores and risk being separated from your family. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, as they will only make you more dehydrated.
33. Use sunscreen. The sun can be pretty intense during the summer, so make sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Reapply sunscreen every few hours – even if it’s cloudy, you can still get sunburned.
34. Wear insect repellent. Fourth of July celebrations often involve picnics and outdoor activities, which means mosquitoes and other insects will be out in full force. Be sure to wear insect repellent to keep them at bay, and if you’re going camping, take extra precautions to avoid getting bitten.
35. Be aware of your surroundings. When Fourth of July celebrations are happening, there will be a lot of people around. Keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you see something suspicious, report it to the authorities immediately. And always carry items that you can use to defend against attackers such as a can of pepper spray, a personal alarm, or a whistle.
36. Don’t drink and drive. It’s no secret that many people will be celebrating Fourth of July with a few drinks. But if you’re planning on driving, be sure to stay sober. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you could face serious penalties – including jail time. More importantly, driving while intoxicated can endanger your life and those of your passengers. If you’re planning to have a drink, you need a designated driver who’ll stay sober and take everyone home safely. You can also play it safe and take a cab home.
Fourth of July is a fun time to celebrate America’s birthday. So have a blast but be sure to keep safety in mind. Fireworks can be dangerous if not used safely, and alcohol can lead to risky behavior. But with some common sense and these Fourth of July safety tips in mind, you can celebrate without any worries. And don’t forget to check out more safety tips over at Gentleman Pirate Club. Stay safe and have a happy Fourth!