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How to Celebrate the Fourth of July Safely Without Compromising Fun and Festivities

As people across the Southland get ready to celebrate our nation’s birthday on the Fourth of July, many will be gathering with friends and family to eat, drink, swim and enjoy fireworks as part of an annual tradition that is beloved by many.

However, the Fourth of July is also a time when it’s important to take some safety precautions to ensure good health and avoid preventable injuries and suffering.

“Celebrating the Fourth of July holiday is a tradition that is treasured and many people look forward to it every year across the United States,” said Dr. Kimberly Petrick, a family practice physician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “But it’s also important to keep safety in mind to prevent this festive holiday from turning into a day you’d soon rather forget.”

One of the biggest traditions associated with this holiday is fireworks. However, handling your own fireworks, which is illegal in many regions of Southern California, carries a big risk.

Common injuries from fireworks

HealthyChildren.org notes about 10,200 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2022, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. At least 11 of them died. Children under 15-years-old accounted for 28% of these injuries. Among parts of the body most often burned or wounded by fireworks were hands and fingers (29%), head, face, and ears (19%) and eyes (16%).

Safer ways to celebrate

According to HealthyChildren.org, it’s best to view fireworks from a distance. As such, professional fireworks shows are going to be more spectacular, and safer, than backyard fireworks. Enjoy them at a safe distance, at least 500 feet away from the fireworks launch site. This will help avoid injuries and protect your child’s hearing.

Additionally, fireworks and firecrackers can be as loud as 150 decibels—a lot louder than what’s considered a safe listening level (75–80 decibels). At a close distance, even one loud burst is enough to cause some permanent hearing damage, HealthyChildren.org warns.

Safe Grilling Tips
If you’re planning to barbecue, there are some important safety measures to keep in mind. According to the Food and Drug Administration, grilling and picnicking often go hand-in-hand. And just as with cooking indoors, follow important guidelines to ensure that your grilled food reaches the table safely. The FDA recommends the following:

  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator — never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. In addition, if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade.
  • Keep “ready” food hot. Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack. This keeps it hot but prevents overcooking.
  • Don’t reuse platters or utensils. Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food’s juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at the grill-side to serve your food.
  • Check for foreign objects in food. If you clean your grill using a bristle brush, make sure that no detached bristles have made their way into grilled food.

“As the weather gets warmer, more and more people will enjoy eating outdoors,” said Dr. Petrick. “The secret is to make sure you don’t compromise food safety, as that can quickly spoil your fun.”

Drinking alcohol
For many people, drinking alcohol has become part of the Fourth of July celebration. However, it’s important to know that overconsumption of alcohol carries immense risk to both you and others.

This is especially true when it comes to drinking and driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it’s important to follow these important safety tips:

  • If you plan to drink, make a plan ahead of time for a sober ride home.
  • Even if you’ve had only one drink, let someone who hasn’t been drinking take you home.
  • If you’re hosting a Fourth of July gathering, help the designated drivers out by making sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.

“If we take common-sense safety precautions, we can all enjoy and have a great time celebrating the Fourth of July with our friends and family,” said Dr. Petrick. “My last advice is if you feel sick, stay home as COVID-19 cases are rising again due to new subvariants of the virus. It’s also very important to stay hydrated as the hot weather persists to avoid heat stress that can lead to a heat stroke. Taking the necessary precautions will help ensure you can enjoy the holiday without compromising your health.”