Memphis is home to a variety of Fourth of July celebrations. From the Auto Zone Park where you can cheer on your favorite minor league baseball team, to the Bellevue Baptist Church, known for its marvelous display of fireworks, there is certainly no shortage of things to do.
For many, Independence Day is a time to watch fireworks, enjoy time with the family, grill up some delicious Fourth of July fare and spend time swimming in the sun.
While everyone should enjoy their Fourth of July experience as much as possible, the Fourth is also a time to be aware of possible hazards to the safety of you and your family. The following safety tips should be kept in mind while you are sharing in the festivities this coming holiday.
KEEP CHILDREN AWAY FROM FIREWORKS.
People have been marking Independence Day by setting off fireworks since 1777. While fireworks are thrilling, it’s important that you and your family take safety precautions at all times – even when a professional is putting on the fireworks show – in order to avoid sustaining serious injuries.
It is illegal to ignite fireworks in Shelby County, including Memphis, Bartlett, Germantown, Millington, Collierville, Arlington and Lakeland. However, not everyone complies with this law, and it is common to come across people lighting illegal fireworks on the Fourth.
If a neighbor or other person nearby is setting off fireworks, it is extremely important to ensure that any children at the scene are protected from harm. Keep an eye out for individuals lighting off fireworks in your vicinity and ensure that you and your children are a safe distance from any active fireworks. Severe injuries such as burns and amputations are a common result of the mishandling fireworks, which may wrongly be considered to be “harmless fun.” With so many professional pyrotechnic displays in and around Memphis, the risk of injury that goes along with setting off your own fireworks doesn’t seem worth it.
GIVE CHILDREN GLOW STICKS INSTEAD OF SPARKLERS.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an average of 240 people go to the emergency room every day with firework-related injuries in the month of July. Sparklers, the most frequently used product by children on the Fourth of July, are among the most dangerous fireworks for burns.
Fireworks expose anyone using them to a high risk of injury and should never be given to children. Sparklers in particular burn at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit – a temperature that can easily cause permanent damage to skin. The sparks that are produced by a sparkler can cause eye injuries and also pose a fire risk. In the end, why ever give a child something that could cause serious injury? Under any circumstances, it is advised that you not allow children to handle sparklers.
ENSURE YOUR PROPANE TANK IS NOT LEAKING.
Propane is a highly flammable gas that can quickly lead to a dangerous fire or explosion if not handled properly. Although propane is naturally odorless, the gas that is sold to consumers has an additive that gives it that recognizable odor. If at any time you smell leaking propane, do not attempt to handle the leak on your own – call the fire department immediately.
It is good to get into the habit of regularly checking your propane tank and the connection points between the propane and burners. Never use a propane tank that may have a leak. If you are unsure whether a tank has a leak, do not use it. The risks are too high.
DRINK ALCOHOL RESPONSIBLY.
The Fourth of July is a time to “let loose” and many festivities involve alcoholic beverages. For a number of reasons, it is important to always drink responsibly.
Name a designated sober driver who can safely transport you to and from festivities. Even if you are not driving, it is important to remember that alcohol can impair your judgment and make you less aware of possible hazards. Remaining alert while grilling, watching children and swimming are also important measures to employ when it comes to staying safe on the Fourth. Another important safety point to remember is never leave open alcohol containers unattended near children or pets.
STAY HYDRATED AND COOL TO PREVENT HEAT STROKE.
The Fourth of July is generally a hot time of the year in Tennessee, and it is extremely important for those spending long periods of time outdoors to drink plenty of fluids and avoid extended periods in direct sunlight. Be aware of the amount of alcohol drink, as alcohol is a diuretic and can greatly increase the risk of heat stroke. If you drink alcohol, take breaks between drinks and have a glass of cool water between every alcoholic beverage, preferably in the shade or inside.
STAY VIGILANT AROUND SWIMMERS.
Many unnecessary deaths occur every year due to lack of swimmer supervision. It is important to realize that although a group of adults acting as supervisors may seem to be enough to keep kids safe, it is crucial to appoint one individual to be in charge of watching children who are swimming. Many drownings occur in the vicinity of those that were supposed to be supervising, but falsely assumed that others were doing so.
ENSURE THAT DECORATIONS ARE APPROPRIATE FOR SMALL CHILDREN AND ANIMALS.
Many decorations can pose a choking hazard for small children or are made with dangerous chemicals. These decorations can harm children and small animals that can become curious about them. If you are having a gathering at your house, walk around the area where the small children and animals will be and ensure that no decorations are located in any areas that are within reach. If you do have decorations that are located in lower areas, make sure they are safe and will not pose a hazard to children or pets.