Red Cross offers tips for a safe Fourth of July
As the Red Cross is continuing to deploy local volunteers to help with the disaster and recovery efforts in Colorado and Florida, they also are looking ahead to the Fourth of July and fun times outdoors. They've had a very busy week of home fires and want to remind our neighbors to be safe. Many people will visit the beach, enjoy fireworks or fire up the grill for a backyard barbecue.
“The American Red Cross wants everyone to have a happy -- and safe -- Fourth of July holiday, and taking a few simple steps to stay safe can help ensure that this will be an enjoyable holiday for all,” said Louis Hicks, the Preparedness, Health and Safety training coordinator in south Louisiana.
BEACH SAFETY If swimming in the ocean is part of someone’s holiday plans, they should check the weather and water conditions beforehand and throughout the day, swim only at a lifeguard-protected beach within the designated swimming area and obey all safety rules. Avoid alcohol before and during any water activities and make sure to never swim alone.
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Actively supervise children at all times – even if a lifeguard is present. Stay within arm’s reach of young children when they are in the water.
- Have weak swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Don’t rely on water wings or inflatable toys.
- Always enter shallow water feet first. Dive only in areas marked safe for diving.
RIP CURRENTS Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:
- If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, turn and swim toward shore.
- If someone can't swim to the shore, they should shout for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
Additional water safety tips are located at redcross.org/watersafetytips.
WATCH THE SUN Everyone should limit the amount of direct sunlight they receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15 throughout the day. Drink plenty of water and avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Wear sunglasses that will absorb UV sunlight to protect one’s eyes. And remember to protect one’s feet by wearing some kind of beach shoes.
FIREWORKS SAFETY Nothing says “Fourth of July” like fireworks. To help stay safe while enjoying them, 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 fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
- Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays.
- Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
GRILLING SAFETY If a picnic and grilled goodies are part of someone’s holiday plans, they should follow these steps:
- Always watch the barbecue grill when in use.
- Never grill indoors – not in a house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
- Make sure children and pets stay 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.
“In addition to these tips, all iPhone and Android smart phone owners should download the new, free American Red Cross First Aid app now so they will have information on how to treat everyday emergencies right in their hands,” Hicks added.