As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, many plan to fire up the grill, cool off at the beach, or spend quality time with our families and friends. Below are five tips to help keep loved ones safe this Fourth of July holiday.

1.  Stay hydrated. Beat the heat by drinking water and ensuring your kids do the same.

Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to reach for water because that’s a sign that you’re already dehydrated. If you start to feel fatigued or lightheaded, find a cool place to rest in the shade to help your body temperature regulate itself.

2.  Watch your alcohol consumption. If you plan to drink alcohol, arrange a sober ride home ahead of time. If you’re hosting a gathering, help the designated drivers by ensuring there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. And, if possible, avoid driving on this holiday as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the Fourth of July is the deadliest day of the year when it comes to vehicle crashes.

3.  Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Did you know sparklers and firecrackers are responsible for most firework-related injuries during the Fourth of July celebrations? According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there was a 50 percent increase in deaths and injuries from fireworks-related incidents in 2020 compared to 2019. 

“Although firework displays are stunning, illegal handling of fireworks can lead to serious injuries and death,” said Ben Hsu, MD, chief of emergency medicine at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. “Each year, we see several injuries in children and adults due to fireworks accidents. Watching your city’s fireworks instead of lighting your own ensures your family has a fun and safe celebration.”

4.  Protect your children and pets. According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, children ages 10 to 14 have the highest rate of fireworks injury, with over one-third of the victims of fireworks injuries under age 15. Also, you may be tempted to bring your pet to a fireworks show, but it’s best if you don’t. Loud fireworks can frighten pets, which can cause them to run away. That’s why it’s best to leave them at home in a quiet, safe space.

5.  Be “water smart.” Talk to your children, including older youth and teenagers, about water safety. A variety of resources are available at redcross.org/watersafety and redcross.org/watersafetyforkids. Provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Children, inexperienced swimmers, and boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

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