It’s a beloved time to celebrate the birth of our country, to take a break in the mid-summer heat, and to take a few days to barbecue, gather with family friends, and shoot off some pyrotechnics to light up the night sky.

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” 

Abraham Lincoln

And it’s also the holiday that sees the highest injuries from firework-related accidents, along with traffic incidents, sunburns, and heat exhaustion. 

It’s July 4th, with all its fun, fireworks, happiness, and hazards.

So what can you do to keep your 4th healthy and accident-free?

  1. Remember to lather on that sunscreen. A lot of us tend to spend more time outdoors during the summer while celebrating July 4th. And that means that we’re at higher risk for damaging sun exposure. Set an alarm on your phone to reapply your sunscreen every two hours. Why every two hours? As it turns out, the SPF of your sunscreen is only at the level of protection the SPF specifies for that two-hour window. Once you get outside of that timeframe, the effective SPF begins to drop, leaving you at greater risk for a sunburn.
  2. Over 12,000 people a year, 50% of them younger than 20, are injured, many severely, due to fireworks every year. Taking precautions to celebrate safely is critical during the July 4th season. Make sure you understand and observe the fireworks laws for your area, as regulations vary from state to state and county to county. Wear eye protection, do not allow young children to handle fireworks, and never light fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Always keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish any sparks. And it should go without saying that you should never point fireworks at anyone or light them in a container.
  3. It can be tempting to think of sparklers as the ‘safer’ alternative to fireworks but as it turns out, 25% of firework injuries that require a trip to the emergency room are caused by this smaller cousin to typical fireworks. Sparklers burn at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can lead to significant burns and injuries. We often hand sparklers to younger children, thinking that we’re offering a safer option, but consider giving them glow sticks or colored streamers instead.
  4. July 4th is a great day to fire up the grill and enjoy a meal outside, but best food safety protocols still apply. Keep raw meats separate from your other food, and make sure you cook raw meat thoroughly. Beef, pork, lamb, veal, and fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Ground meats should be cooked to an internal temp of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and poultry cooked to 165 degrees. And remember to give your grill grates a good scrub before you get to showing off your grilling skills.

“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.”

Benjamin Franklin

With a little preparation and some safety rules in place, you and your family can have a celebratory and safe July 4th! And for some fascinating facts about July 4th that you might not know, brush up on your Independence Day history!