Red Cross issues safety tips for 4th of July

It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations – fireworks, a backyard barbecue, maybe a trip to the lake. Whatever people have planned, the American Red Cross wants them to enjoy their holiday and has steps they can follow to be safe.

“We want everyone to have a great holiday, and a safe one,” said Dave Griffith, American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter executive director. “Whether the weekend will involve fireworks, grilling or going to the waterfront, we have safety tips everyone can follow.”

FIREWORKS SAFETY

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, they should follow these 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.

GRILLING SAFETY

Every year people in this country are injured while using backyard charcoal or gas grills. Follow these steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

Always supervise a barbecue 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.

WATER SAFETY

If someone’s holiday includes a trip to a local lake or river, they should know how to swim and be aware of boating and water safety guidelines. Other safety tips include:

Keep alert for local weather conditions. Check to see if any warnings are posted.

Don’t drink alcohol while operating a boat.

Swim sober and always swim with a buddy.

Have everyone on board 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. 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.

SUN PROTECTION

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

During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:

Call 9-1-1 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.

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