4 Tips For 4th of July Safety

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By Marcus Fernandez

There’s something special about the 4th of July that people look forward to with anticipation regardless of your plans for the day. You may enjoy relaxing on a sandy beach in Tampa Bay, barbecuing hot dogs and burgers, or watching a patriotic parade. Whatever your plans for the holiday, and however you get to your destination, make sure an accident or injury does not spoil the fun. The experienced Tampa personal injury lawyers at KFB Law put this blog together with 4th of July safety tips for activities typically associated with the holiday. It explains tips for fireworks, water activities, grilling, and driving. Make this a safe and enjoyable holiday for you and your family.

Tip #1: How to safely enjoy fireworks on the Fourth

Whatever else people choose to do to celebrate the holiday, fireworks usually are a part of it. If your 4th of July activities include buying and setting off fireworks or watching some of the many professionally conducted fireworks displays throughout Hillsborough County and Florida, remember to make safety the number one priority.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 10,000 people required treatment at hospital emergency rooms for injuries attributed to fireworks on the 4th of July. Another 11 people died from fireworks-related incidents. 

All fireworks, from sparklers and firecrackers to rockets that soar into the sky and explode, are dangerous. Sparklers look pretty, but they burn at more than 2,000 degrees. Fireworks and sparklers account for the most fireworks-related injuries on the 4th of July.

If you must handle fireworks, here are a few ways to reduce the risk of an injury:

  • Keep all fireworks, including sparklers, away from children.
  • Put one person in charge of lighting the fireworks, and have them wear eye protection. Everyone else should be a safe distance away.
  • Do not approach, pick up, or attempt to relight fireworks that fail to go off. 
  • Do not light fireworks indoors or while holding them in your hand.
  • Do not throw fireworks at another person. 
  • Have a hose or bucket filled with water to douse fireworks that do not go off or put out fires.
  • Fireworks that do not go off or are left over should be thoroughly soaked in water before disposing of them. 

For the average person, possessing or using most types of fireworks other than sparklers is prohibited by state law in Florida. The safest way to legally enjoy fireworks is by spreading a blanket on the ground, looking up at the sky, and watching a public display by professionals.

Tip #2: Water safety

Ideal weather conditions in the Tampa Bay area at this time of year put water activities high on the list of things to do on the 4th of July. If your holiday celebration includes a day at the beach or a pool, be mindful of the risk of unintentional drowning.

Florida ranks fourth in the United States in deaths caused by unintentional drowning. Enjoy the water activities the Sunshine State has to offer. But, remain mindful of the risks by taking the following precautions:

  • Children should never be left alone and unsupervised by an adult in or around swimming pools or open bodies of water.
  • Florida beaches use warning flags to inform of water conditions. Be aware of the warning before attempting to enter the water. If you’re unsure what a flag color means, ask a lifeguard.
  • Swim only at beaches when a lifeguard is present, and always obey the lifeguard.
  • Inexperienced swimmers and children should always wear a personal floatation device approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Do not dive into water without knowing the depth. This includes all bodies of water and swimming pools.

Whether your Independence Day celebration includes swimming at a Tampa Bay beach, designate a responsible adult to focus their attention on the water. Rotate people as water watchers to share the responsibilities. 

Tip #3: Grilling and food-handling safety 

Suppose you’re like most people, Independence Day and grilling are synonymous. Before you haul out the grill for a backyard or beachside to barbecue burgers and hot dogs for friends and family, know that people suffering grill injuries requiring emergency medical treatment average 22,155 annually.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries when cooking with gas or charcoal grills this Independence Day:

  • Thoroughly clean the grill before use. Cleaning should include the removal of grease buildup on cooking grates and the surfaces and trays below them. 
  • Check gas grills for leaks. Do this by turning on the gas supply and spraying connections with a soapy water mix. This will bubble to reveal gas leakage. Turn off the gas and any leaking connections before using the grill. While you’re at it, replace any damaged or worn hoses to prevent gas leaks.
  • Use a pipe cleaner to remove insects and spider webs from inside the venturi tube, which runs from the control valves on the grill to the burners. A blocked tube prevents gas from flowing freely. This may prevent the burners from lighting and cause a flashback that can damage the grill or cause an injury to someone standing over it.
  • Never use gas or charcoal grills indoors.
  • Do not leave a grill unattended while it’s in use.
  • Keep children several feet away from grills.
  • Buildings and other structures can be damaged by setting a grill too close to them.
  • Open the lid before turning on and lighting a gas grill.
  • When lighting a charcoal grill, use only starter fluid made for that purpose. Never use gasoline or other flammables. Do not add starter fluid once it begins to burn.

When done grilling, turn off the gas at the tank or the main gas value. Charcoal grills should be allowed to go out on their own before transferring the ash and remaining coals to a metal container. 

Tip #4: Driving safely this July Fourth

If your plans for celebrating Independence Day require using the family car, the Florida Highway Patrol wants you to be extra careful. The 4th of July is a dangerous day for driving, with an increase in injuries and deaths from crashes.

FHP sees an increase in impaired driving due, in part, to the people consuming beer and other alcoholic beverages while at the beach, backyard parties, and watching fireworks displays. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this July:

  • Use ridesharing services or a designated driver if consuming alcohol.
  • Leave ample time to reach your destination to allow for increased traffic volume.
  • Obey speed limits and other traffic laws.
  • Avoid distractions like cell phones, and keep your eyes and mind on the road.

If taking a long trip for the holiday, get plenty of rest the night before and take breaks to avoid fatigue.

A Tampa personal injury attorney can help

The experienced Tampa personal injury attorneys at KFB Law hope you and your family have a safe 4th of July, but we’re here if you need us. If you are injured because of the fault of another person, contact us for a free consultation to learn about your right to receive compensation for your losses.