Summer is the season for getting outside, having parties with friends and family, and spending time poolside. As fun as all of these activities are, they also pose potential risks for anyone involved. From heatstroke to firework-related injuries, we’ll cover the biggest hazards the summer season (and the Fourth of July week in particular) presents.
On average, approximately 230 families end up in the emergency room near and on the Fourth of July due to fireworks-related injuries. The majority of these injuries are burns, namely to the hands, fingers, face, eyes, and head and smaller fireworks like sparklers and firecrackers account for almost 40% of these accidents. However, sometimes fireworks can cause far more severe injuries and even result in death—in 2014, nine people died from eight different fireworks-related accidents, two of whom were not the ones lighting the fireworks.
To avoid the worst case scenarios of fireworks season, use your common sense and keep the following tips in mind:
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Most fireworks injuries seen in the ER are adult injuries because it’s common sense not to let children play with fireworks, however a reminder never hurts. If you need to have something on-hand to give them, try glow sticks instead.
- Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that don’t go off—they could still be live and you could be seriously injured if they go off while you’re trying to reignite or handle them.
- Do not wear loose clothing that could slip and catch fire while handling fireworks.
- Never light fireworks around dry grass or indoors.
- Keep a hose, bucket of water, or fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire.
- Confirm that fireworks are legal in your area before buying and/or using them.
- Light fireworks one at a time and then move away quickly.
Summer is the ideal time for outside activities, including the barbecues and picnics we all love to take around Fourth of July, but heat can cause serious damage, particularly to children and the elderly. Heatstroke and exhaustion are the results of staying out in the sun too long or in a generally overheated place without staying hydrated—and if the setting is a Fourth of July party where alcohol is likely involved, you’re even more dehydrated than you think. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Elevated or lowered blood pressure
- Cessation of sweating
- Irritability or confusion
- Falling unconscious
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Fainting (may be the first sign in older adults)
If someone is experiencing heatstroke, immediately move them to a shady or air-conditioned area and call 911 for medical assistance. Lower the person’s body temperature by covering them with a damp towel or spraying them with cool water. If the person is able, have them drink cold water or any nonalcoholic, decaffeinated beverage.
Pool parties are also a huge factor of the summer months and while they do help circumvent risks that come with high temperatures and the heatstroke that could result, they do present opportunities for drowning incidents instead. In 2011, there were 25 drowning incidents reported that involved children under the age of 15 during the holiday week. To avoid having an incident like this:
- Never leave a child unattended in a body of water
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
- Learn CPR
- Have appropriate equipment for your pool or spa, including lifesaving equipment (i.e. life rings, floats, reaching pole, etc.)
While alcohol can increase the dangers for all of the aforementioned hazards, drinking and driving has played a significant role in the Fourth of July’s reputation as the most dangerous holiday—even more so than New Year’s Eve. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) crash statistics for the past 25 years, an average of 51% of all fatal automobile accidents on July 4th are related to alcohol. More specifically, the most dangerous time to be on the road is from 6 p.m. on July 3 to midnight on July 5.
To keep yourself, your loved ones, and everyone you’re sharing the road with safe, take some safety precautions before getting behind the wheel, including:
- Arranging for a designated driver or calling a taxi if you plan to drink at a party
- Reporting drunk drivers you see on the road
- Not allowing friends to drink and drive
- Wearing a seatbelt every time you’re in the car, even if you’re a passenger
Having fun is even more enjoyable when there’s less to worry about, so keeping to some ground rules to keep yourself and everyone involved out of harm’s way will benefit your activities overall. Stay safe and have a fantastic Fourth of July and summer season from Boughter Sinak, LLC!