Best tips to safely celebrate July 4th

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Once a year, our country throws a huge party by celebrating the birth of our independence.  Each of us will observe the day in many ways – picnics, boating, swimming, and of course, fireworks. Ever since John Adams in 1776 penned to his wife Abigail stating, “I am apt to believe that this day will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival,” we have certainly done our part to uphold his sentiments by yearly recognizing our country’s history with a literal bang.

As much fun and anticipated excitement there is associated with this holiday, unfortunately, setting off fireworks or engaging in activities we may not do very often, can result in disaster.  This year, forget shooting off a roman candle by holding it in your hand or eating unrefrigerated potato salad.  Instead, take time to review safety tips on still celebrating July the Fourth with a bang but without injury.

Picnic Safety

Everyone loves picnics and so do uninvited bacteria.  They love high-protein, moist foods such as meats, cheese, dairy and those yummy salads like potato salad, pasta salad, and macaroni salad.  To ensure everyone goes home from the picnic happy and without a foodborne illness, do the following:

·      Store foods in a cooler packed with ice to keep the temperature below 40 degrees.

·      Store raw meat separately from salad, fruits, beverages and other foods.  Wrap meat with cellophane and foil to avoid drippings.

·      Transport the cooler in the back seat of your air-conditioned car instead of your hot trunk.

·      Remove from the cooler only the amount of raw meat that will fit on the grill.

·      Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer – hamburgers to at least 160 degrees and chicken breasts to 165 degrees.

·      Keep all salads cold.

·      Take soap and water or towelettes to clean hands for preparing and handling food.

·      Do not let unrefrigerated food sit out longer than two hours or one hour if it is over 90 degrees outside.

·      Bring extra plates – one for handling raw foods and another for cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.

·      Keep children away from campfires and grills.

Swimming/boating

One of the biggest pastimes for many on the Fourth of July is spending the day at a beach. Beaches across the country will be packed with fun water activities from swimming, boating or manning a jet ski.  As much fun as it is to be in and around cool water on a warm day, precautions must be taken to protect everyone from potential dangers:

·      Never swim alone and make sure kids’ water play is always supervised at all times.  Statistics show that most young children who drown in water have been out of sight for less than five minutes.

·      Review safe boating practices before heading out on water.

·      Do not drink and drive your boat.  Alcohol consumption while operating boats or other motorized water vessels is illegal. 

·      Be sure to have an adequate number of lifejackets for each person on a boat. 

·      Apply sunscreen before and during the time spent on water. 

·      Bring along plenty of water to avoid the risk of heat illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Highway safety

The nations’ highways will be packed as people head out to enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks.  To make sure you reach your destination and back home safely, here are some safety tips to review:

·      Make sure every passenger in the vehicle is buckled up.

·      Observe all speed limits and use caution in work zones.

·      Be respectful of other drivers and follow the rules of the road.

·      Clean your vehicles lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.

·      Don’t let your gas tank get too low.

·      If you have car trouble, pull off the highway as far as possible.

·      Never drink and drive.

Fireworks safety

·      Never allow small children to handle fireworks and always follow the instructions on the packaging.

·      Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.

·      The person lighting fireworks should always wear eye protection.

·      Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight a “dud.”

·      Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

·      The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals and to keep your distance by at least 500 feet away from the display.