Many families will spend the holiday outdoors at picnics, parties, parades, parks and perhaps their own back yards. Along with these activities come the dangers of water, fire, food, large crowds and heat. Awareness of potential injuries common during July 4th holiday celebrations can help parents prevent harm to their children.
Follow these safety tips for keeping youngsters safe and happy:
- Use extreme caution with sparklers and other fireworks novelty items commonly sold at grocery stores and gas stations. The Department of Health reported that sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can set clothing on fire. Children under 12 should not use them. Some states prohibit the use of most fireworks, including "bottle rockets" and firecrackers. Novelty items that smoke, pop and sparkle are allowed by law but are common sources of injury for children, particularly ages 5 and younger. Never use these items near wooded areas or very dry grass to reduce the risk of fire. Adults who supervise children using novelty fireworks should not be under the influence of alcohol.
- Create a "child-free zone" around outdoor grills. Use lawn chairs or other items to establish the area in which children should not be allowed to enter. Be sure grill fuel lines are properly connected and free of cracks or tears to prevent explosions. Never pour lighter fluid on hot coals. Be sure that children stay clear of areas near grills until they are completely cooled. Do not allow children to cook on grills, even with supervision.
- Keep children away from floats and vehicles traveling on a parade route. This can be difficult to do when candy is thrown too close to the procession and youngsters dart out to retrieve it. Use caution when allowing children to ride in parades. Boy Scouts of America denounces allowing children to ride on or walk alongside floats, truck beds or trailers by requiring its members to march in groups. But asphalt can become very hot in high temperatures, so parents should have plenty of water available to parade marchers and be prepared to nix participation for younger children or those who do not tolerate heat well.
- Be sure children know what to do if they become separated from parents or other supervisors. Parks, pools and parades are likely to be crowded this coming holiday, so children can easily become lost. Designate a meeting spot as soon as you arrive at a public location and make sure all family members use the buddy system. Remember to keep cell phone batteries charged, and consider allowing children who do not have their own cell phone to carry one in crowded areas. Always keep young children supervised.
Have a safe and Happy Fourth of July everyone!
Written by Mary Canonico
Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International