The Independence Day Holiday is just around the corner and many people will participate in outdoor activities, enjoy fireworks, or fire up the grill for a backyard barbecue. With record heat in the forecast, as well as other potential hazards, watching out for others is paramount.
“The American Red Cross wants everyone to have a happy — and safe — Fourth of July holiday, and taking a few simple steps to stay safe can help ensure that this will be an enjoyable holiday for everyone,” said Scott Emerson, CEO of the American Red Cross of Southern Nevada.
POOL SAFETY Private or public pools are a great way to escape the heat, and enjoy the day. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool – never allow anyone to swim alone. Avoid alcohol before and during any water activities and make sure to never swim alone.
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Actively supervise children at all times – even if a lifeguard is present. Stay within arm’s reach of young children when they are in the water.
- Have weak swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Don’t rely on water wings or inflatable toys.
- Always enter shallow water feet first. Dive only in areas marked safe for diving.
Additional water safety tips are located at redcross.org/watersafetytips.
WATCH THE SUN Everyone should limit the amount of direct sunlight they receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15 throughout the day. Wear sunglasses that will absorb UV sunlight to protect one’s eyes. And remember to protect one’s feet by wearing some kind of beach shoes.
HEAT SAFETY The record highs of the last week remind us that activities outdoors can drain us of our energy and hydration very quickly. This is especially true in youngsters and our older family members. Checking on everyone frequently to be assured they’re not suffering from stress is imperative. Tips to keep in mind:
- Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan what to do if the power goes out.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb the sun’s rays. It’s a great idea to use a hat or an umbrella.
- Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
- Eat small meals, and do so more often. Avoid high-protein foods. They raise your metabolic heat.
- Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m. Take frequent breaks. Don’t work outdoors alone, in case you begin to show signs of heat exhaustion.
- Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool, they simply circulate the air.
- Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on family, friends and neighbors who are elderly or ill and those who do not have air conditioning. Check on your animals frequently, too, to make sure they are not suffering from the heat.
FIREWORKS SAFETY Nothing says “Fourth of July” like fireworks. To help stay safe while enjoying them, 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 fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
- Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays.
- Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
GRILLING SAFETY If a picnic and grilled goodies are part of someone’s holiday plans, they should follow these steps:
- Always watch the barbecue grill when in use.
- Never grill indoors – not in a house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
- Make sure children and pets stay away from the grill.
- 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.
“In addition to these tips, all iPhone and Android smart phone owners should download the free American Red Cross First Aid app so they will have information on how to treat everyday emergencies available to them right in their pockets,” added Emerson. You can find a variety of Red Cross mobile apps at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps