July 4 Holiday Safety

July 4 Fireworks Celebration over calm lake

A sure sign of summer, the Independence Day holiday is upon us, celebrating the day the 13 colonial delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence. It’s been a national holiday since 1941 and, this year, it falls on a Tuesday, giving many workers an extended weekend with an observed holiday on Monday the 3rd.

That’s the good news. The bad news? Independence Day is one of the costliest holidays in terms of casualties, whether it’s heat-related illnessdrownings, fireworks injuries, intoxicated drivers, or other summertime hazards. Here are some tips for staying safe:

Fireworks. With 66% of all U.S. fireworks injuries occurring in the four weeks around Independence Day and the three-year injury trend rising, try taking in a public display near you instead. If you must use personal pyrotechnics, then follow all local ordinances regarding sales, purchasing and use, do not use while intoxicated, wear ear, eye and hand protection, never launch toward people or animals, and do not handle items that are burning, smoldering, or smoking.

Traffic. Federal statistics indicate 1,460 drivers were killed in Independence Day holiday motor vehicle crashes from 2017 to 2021. Of these, 38% were intoxicated. So, obviously, never drink and drive. Designate a driver. Make sure your car is ready for the trip and you’ve got the necessary emergency gear should you encounter a problem. Also, plan your trip for off-peak travel times and get plenty of sleep prior to driving. Ensure everyone buckles up, don’t be distracted by your cell phone, and observe all highway traffic rules. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these tips to avoid drowsy driving and the National Safety Council offers a supply kit checklist here.

Closely related, do not operate recreational vehicles such as ATVs or boats unless you are properly trained, know the limitations of your machine, and wear all appropriate safety gear, especially a helmet. Never operate while drinking. More tips are available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.      

Food, always a big part of holiday parties, can be a factor in food poisoning. Be sure all prepared foods are properly refrigerated prior to serving and iced if left out while serving. Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated promptly. For more information, check out the Leftovers and Food Safety guide from the USDA.

Water. If planning to get wet, swimmers unsure of their abilities should remain in shallow water and wear floatation devices. Boaters should also wear flotation devices and be alert for swimmers and debris in the water that could cause damage or injury. Pay attention to the weather forecast to avoid lightning and floods from thunderstorms; stay hydrated and apply sunscreen regularly if it’s hot. The U.S. Coast Guard is a great resource and maintains an online Boating Safety Resource Center

Holiday safety is everyone’s responsibility. If you have the long weekend away from work, please safely celebrate this nation’s birth. If you are working over the weekend, please keep focused on workplace safety in all aspects, but especially in transportation. Let’s be sure we’re all back to work on Wednesday. Best wishes and a happy holiday to all from the MEMIC team.