July 4th is what summer is all about. What better way could there be to spend a holiday afternoon than grilling in the backyard, enjoying the summer weather and looking forward to an evening fireworks display. Fun times can hold hidden dangers, though. Every year thousands of people visit local emergency rooms with sunburns, bug bites and fireworks injuries. Many of these injuries could be avoided with a little planning and some common sense.
You probably already know that sun damage can lead to sunburn, premature skin aging and cancer. You may not realize how easy it is to sustain sun damage without realizing it:
- You can get sunburn even on overcast days.
- Even if you wear a high SPF sunscreen, it can wash off when participating in water sports or just through perspiring. Sunscreen should be reapplied every couple of hours.
- Discard and replace old bottles of sunscreen after a couple of seasons.
- It's easy to misjudge the intensity of a sunburn because sunburns only start to feel tender after around four hours of exposure. Always wear sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 rating and ideally an SPF 30 rating or better.
- If you do sustain a burn, drink plenty of liquids and apply a topical moisturizer (aloe vera cream or 1% hydrocortisone cream) for temporary relief.
- Do not break blisters. This can encourage infection.
- Seek professional help for a sunburn covering 15 percent of your body or more, or if you develop a fever of 101 degrees F or higher.
Fun in the Water
There's nothing like a pool party or trip to the beach to make a holiday memorable. Make sure your 4th of July celebration is memorable for the right reasons by observing these water safety rules:
- Make sure children are always supervised when they are in or around the water.
- If you notice a child in your party is missing, check the pool first.
- Encourage hourly breaks when participating in water related activities, and never get in the water if you're inebriated, ill or otherwise impaired.
- Take the added precaution of suggesting that someone in your family or group be trained to provide CPR should it become necessary.
- Always wear sunscreen near the water. Water can reflect sunlight and increase the effects of sunburn. Wet skin burns more readily, too.
- Renew sunscreen more regularly when enjoying water activities.
- Never dive into an unknown body of water head first.
- If you're caught in an ocean or river riptide, swim parallel to the shore until free of the current.
- Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing when in the water. It may become tangled or create a hazard for others.
Grilling and Food Safety
No summer holiday celebration is complete without a grilling party and lots of fun and tasty foods. Observe these safety precautions, and you'll avoid grilling injuries and food borne illnesses:
Always grill on a flat, stable surface with plenty of open air space above the flame. Avoid grilling under a two story deck, awning or umbrella. Never grill in a garage or tent.
- Keep your grill well away from tree branches, siding and foot traffic.
- Observe fire safety precautions at all times.
- Grilling should only be performed by responsible adults.
- Never grill when inebriated or otherwise impaired.
- Keep a BC fire extinguisher (Sodium Bicarbonate) on hand in case of a grease fire emergency.
- Before each use, clean grilling surfaces that come in contact with food.
- Use a food thermometer to check for doneness when cooking raw meats.
When Handling Food
Always refrigerate dishes within two hours of preparing them, and one hour if the temperature is at or over 90 degrees F.
- Cover food to keep it safe from flying insects.
- Rinse produce before using it.
- Avoid cross contamination by using different utensils to prepare raw meats.
- Wash your hands regularly when preparing food. Use warm water and soap, and scrub for twenty seconds per washing.
Safe Fireworks Fun
Fireworks are exciting and fun. For many families, watching a fireworks display is an essential part of a 4th of July celebration. To keep your festivities safe and sane, observe these simple rules:
Whenever possible, let the professionals handle the fireworks. Professionally sponsored fireworks displays are becoming more popular across the country. When you let the pros do the honors, you keep your family safe and usually end up watching a much more exciting show than if you'd tried igniting fireworks at home yourself.