Stay safe this Fourth of July

OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations – a time with family, friends, fireworks, a backyard barbecue, and maybe a trip to the lake. However, this American holiday is also one of the most dangerous.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) offers the following safety tips for preventing injuries and illness during this year’s Fourth of July activities:

Firework Safety
Obey all state and local laws regarding the sale, possession and use of fireworks.

In areas where fireworks are legal or allowed with appropriate permits, a responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.

Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.

Make sure you, your kids and others watch fireworks from a safe distance.

Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.

Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.

Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and placing in a metal trash can away from any buildings or combustible materials until the next day.

Grilling Safety
Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.

Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.

Grill out in the open, away from the house, tree branches or anything flammable.

Use long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.

Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.

Lake Safety
Always wear a life jacket when in the water or on a motorized water vehicle such as a boat or jet ski.

Stay alert for local weather conditions. Check for warning signs or flags.

Protect the neck – don’t dive headfirst into the water. Walk carefully into open waters.

Never let your children swim alone. An adult should always be present and paying attention.

Always have a phone handy should an emergency arise.

Follow safe boating practices: use an observer if towing a person, stay a safe distance from the shore and use good judgment operating around other watercraft.

Chart a safe course. The Fourth of July is sometimes the first and only time people venture out on the water after dark. Visual navigation markers you rely on during the day may not be visible.

Designate a sober driver. The side effects of alcohol are impaired judgment, reduced balance and poor coordination, which are magnified by the boating environment. It is illegal to operate a boat or water ski with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.

Sun Exposure
Try to limit exposure to the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Always wear a sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 15 with UVA and UVB protection and reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days.

Stay hydrated and watch for signs of heat stroke – rapid, weak pulse, fast, slow breathing and hot, red skin. A heat stroke is a medical emergency.

Follow these tips and enjoy a fun and safe Fourth of July!