From Everyone at Passport Health, “Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!” July 4, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment The 4th of July is certainly a time to celebrate! It should also be a time to practice caution. There are many factors, such as alcohol, fireworks, travel, and being outdoors for extended periods of time that make this holiday one of the most dangerous holidays and July one of the most dangerous months of the year. Thankfully, there are some simple precautions you and your family can take that will contribute to a memorable and joyous Independence Day: Drive safely If traveling by car, both locally or on a distant road-trip, plan your travel when there is likely to be fewer people on the road. Traffic and accidents increase from about 6pm on July 3rd through about midnight on the 4th. Fasten your seat belt and ensure that your passengers follow suit. Drive defensively and be on the alert for any reckless drivers. If you plan to consume alcohol, have a designated driver and never drink and drive. Apply sunscreen If you are spending time outdoors, sunscreen should be applied, even if you’re only attending a backyard cookout. Sunscreen should also be reapplied, especially after you have been in the water or have been outside for an extended period of time. Apply insect repellent While outdoors, protect yourself from insect bites. Insect repellent should be used. In addition to mosquitoes, it is possible that ticks could be present in the area, so check yourself for ticks at the end of the day prior to returning home. Use alcohol responsibly Alcohol can be a dangerous addition with other 4th of July activities. Driving, boating, swimming and other water sports are more hazardous when alcohol is involved. Be responsible when drinking and watch out for others who may overindulge. Drink water To prevent heat stroke or heat exhaustion, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially if you are consuming alcohol. You can also spend time in the shade or indoors if you start to feel overheated. Protect your pets Pets are often frightened by fireworks. Keep them safe and sheltered if they are bothered by the noise. Pets should never be left unattended in the car while you attend fireworks displays or other holiday events. Make sure your pets are supervised and have easy access to shade and a continuous supply of fresh water and food. It is best to avoid table food to protect your pets from an upset stomach. Be cautious around water 4th of July celebrations often involve bodies of water, whether it’s the lake, ocean, or a backyard swimming pool. If taking to the water, use safe boating practices. Life preservers should be plentiful when water is involved. Don’t let anyone swim alone and supervise kids when playing in water. Safely prepare and handle food Wash your hands often when preparing and handling food. Since keeping food out all day can invite food borne illnesses, special attention should be paid to food storage during your outdoor festivities, and food should be stored in a cooler with plenty of clean ice. You should only leave food out for one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees and no more than two hours when it’s cooler. Any food can potentially become contaminated if left out in hot weather. Protect food from flies by keeping it covered. When in doubt, throw it out. Watch grills and campfires Don’t let your campfire or grill scar your memories or your skin. Just like fireworks, children should be kept at a safe distance and closely supervised. Gas grills can also be sources of explosions or fires. Since it’s often dry during July, make sure that all fires are completely put out to avoid starting an unwanted fire. Respect the fireworks If fireworks are legal in your city, safely store them out of the reach of children and have all spectators stay a safe distance from fireworks at all times. Young children should not handle fireworks and older children should be closely supervised. Prior to selecting an area from where to light your fireworks, make sure the area is free of anything that could be flammable. Having a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy in case of fire is always a good idea, just in case. For even greater peace of mind, attend a public firework display executed by professionals and enjoy the celebration with a larger crowd. By taking these easily executed precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable holiday this 4th of July! We wouldn’t want it any other way!!! Have fun!