Red Cross Offers Ways to Stay Safe Over 4th of July Holiday


Fourth of July celebrations are right around the corner, with many including plans for fireworks, a backyard barbecue or a trip to beach over the extended weekend.

However, many of these popular holiday activities may include some safety hazards, so the American Red Cross is offering tips on how to safely enjoy Independence Day.

Thesafest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on byprofessionals. Officials advise staying at least 500 feet away from the show.

Those who do decide to set fireworks off at home should followthese 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.

Fireworks aren't the only hazard people may face; everyyear some people are injured while using backyard charcoal or gasgrills.

Follow these steps to safely prepare the backyard barbecue:

  • Always supervise a 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.
  • 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.

For those whose visit to the shore includes swimming in theocean, it is recommended to learn how to swim in the surf and only swim at a lifeguardedbeach, within the designated swimming area.

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 while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.

Ripcurrents are responsible for deaths on American beaches every year, and formost of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Any beach with breaking waves mayhave rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember thefollowing:

  • 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.

More water safety tips can be found at

Another important thing to remember is how to be safe in the sun.

  • Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factorof at least 15.
  • Reapply sunscreen often.
  • Remember to drink plenty of waterregularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them as they can dehydrate.
  • Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UVsunlight.
  • Protect the feet - the sand can burn them and glass and other sharpobjects can cut them.

Duringhot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke--hot, red skin; changes inconsciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it's suspectedsomeone is suffering from heat stroke:

  • Call 911 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.

For more information from the American Red Cross, go to