Friday marks the Fourth of July and we’ll have an entire weekend to celebrate. This time of year the weather is usually great, people are in a good mood, and school is out. While we all have fun events planned, this is also a time when accidents can occur. One of the main themes you’ll see on this list is to avoid alcohol and drugs during fun activities. Being under the influence of substances can alter judgement and have deadly consequences. We’ve had posts on summer safety including drowning prevention, water safety, and driving in the past. Here we’ll highlight some of our tips for having a great and safe 4th of July weekend.
1. Firework safety: Don’t try to re-use a firework if it doesn’t go off. Extinguish it (pour water on it) and do not try to light it again. Strongly consider eye protection when using fireworks. Avoid giving fireworks to young children.
2. Boating safety: Avoid drinking or using drugs while boating. This can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Use flotation devices (life vests) when boating.
3. Swimming: The peak times for drowning occur in toddlers and again during the teen years. Swimming is great fun, but even strong swimmers can drown. When in the water, don’t ignore or dismiss a person seems to be struggling. Be cautious around moving water, such as lakes. Remind teens that swimming takes a lot of energy, so don’t be over confident (for example, don’t try to swim across a lake on a dare). Use floatation devices and avoid alcohol and drugs when in or around the water.
4. Aquatic sports: This encompasses a broad range of activities including scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting, and more. Teens may be tempting to compete, show off for peers, complete dares, or over estimate their abilities. Adults should always be present, but no one person can see and respond to every incident. Consider a buddy or 3 person system where one can call for help if needed. Use personal flotation devices, make sure the teen has adequate training on equipment before use, and discuss rules regarding behavior (such as speed, avoiding dangerous tricks, abstaining from alcohol) before getting out on the water. Be consistent with any consequences for not following safety rules.
5. Driving: Remind teens to never text and drive. If possible, limit the number of passengers with teen drivers as conversations and peer influence can be very distracting. Avoid alcohol and drugs while driving.
6. Heat and sun exposure: While it isn’t often extremely hot in the Pacific Northwest, heat exhaustion can still be serious. When out in the sun, encourage hydration, especially during active things like sports. Stay inside or in the shade during the peak temperatures of the day (typically around noon and early afternoon).