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Stay Safe This Fourth of July - 06/29/2017

Stay Safe This Fourth of July

Johns Hopkins expert offers reminder of potential dangers this holiday.
Release Date: June 29, 2017
Credit: iStock

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The Fourth of July is almost here, and many people are getting ready to revel in the red, white and blue. The holiday is often filled with barbecues, firework displays and patriotic pride, but, for some families, the celebration ends at the hospital. “Fourth of July is a time to celebrate, and it’s important to take time to do so, but it is important to keep safety in mind so you can avoid a trip to the Emergency Department,” says Susan Peterson, M.D., associate medical director for patient safety and quality in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Here are some tips she shares for keeping your friends and family safe this Fourth of July:

Firework Injury Prevention

More than 11,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for firework-related injuries in the U.S. in 2016, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most of those injuries happened during a one-month period around July 4.

Key tips:

  • Enjoying fireworks at a public event managed by professionals is the safest bet.
  • Never give fireworks to small children and always follow label instructions. Even sparklers can lead to burns and should only be used with adult supervision.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have water or a hose nearby to quickly extinguish them.

Water Safety

About 10 people die from drowning each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Key tips:

  • Swim with another person. Children should always be supervised near water.
  • Inexperienced swimmers, including young children, should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • If a swimmer inhales water, be on alert for significant coughing, heavy breathing, fatigue, vomiting or changes in behavior. These are indications that the swimmer may need further evaluation by a medical provider.

Heat-Related Illnesses

If you are planning to spend time outdoors, remember that being in the heat and high humidity for long periods of time can be dangerous and can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Key tips:

  • Stay indoors in an air-conditioned area if possible.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid participating in vigorous activities and sports during extreme heat. Be on the lookout for warning signs of heat exhaustion, including disorientation, dizziness, vomiting, and/or the development of a headache.

Car Safety

Millions of people will be hitting the road this Fourth of July, which means many cars and trucks driving on the roads. This, in turn, could lead to accidents.

Key tips:

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Maintain the speed limit and stay focused on the road. Do not drive distracted.
  • Don’t drink alcoholic drinks and drive.
  • Ensure car seats are properly installed, and young children are properly fastened in.

Remember, if you or a loved one becomes seriously injured, seek medical attention immediately.

For expert opinions:

Susan Peterson, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine, is available for interviews on Fourth of July safety, including fireworks, water, heat and car safety.