We all know fireworks are dangerous, but outside the obvious hazards (burns, injuries, oh my!), there are other things to be aware of to stay safe this weekend. The 4th of July is a crazy-fun, chaotic day filled with friends and family. Lovely for the time and space to celebrate freedom and lovely for the holiday to celebrate each other. All easy ways to get distracted though, and take your eyes off your children who might be playing in circumstances not typical of your run-of-the mill Saturday. Enter fireworks (which the American Academy of Pediatrics urges families NOT to use) but also swimming, or driving, in ways changed by the holiday circumstances.
- Distraction: it really is this decade’s issue in a profound new way. If supervising little swimmers or children using fireworks, perhaps stay off your cell or smartphones. While you’re distracted and typing a “Happy 4th of July” text, your child could be grabbing a hot (burning at over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit) sparkler. It’s true that 3rd-degree burns happen with (or without) distraction but we can minimize the chances. If you’re opting-in, be there fully. The National Fire Protection Association states that the risk of firework injury is highest for young people ages 0 to 4, followed by children 10 to 14. These little loves need your full attention; of anything parenting teaches us it’s that our children can do nutsy things when we least expect it.
- Remind your teens and their friends about of risks associated with teens on the road for the holiday. Pull a parent move and remind them to wear their seat belt, avoid texting and driving, and ban the use of alcohol for those behind the wheel. The 4th of July ranks as the deadliest day all year for teen drivers according to AAA.
- Too much of a smarty pants for a problem? If you think you’re too smart for injuries on the 4th of July, hold on a second. Recent research found that higher levels of education do not protect against firework-related injuries. Even if you’re part of Mensa, this is a day to make back up plans.
- Heat: Temperatures around the U.S. are HOT this time of year. Keep in mind that infants and small children are not able to regulate their body temperature in the same way that adults do. If you’re planning on spending the 4th of July outdoors with your children, make sure you have sunscreen, water and most wonderful— shade — available to them. Never leave children or infants in a car, even if windows open and don’t ever hesitate to call 9-1-1 if you see a child left unattended in a car.
- Water Happiness: If you’re lucky enough to enjoy cooling off in the pool or lake, keep in mind that drownings are most prevalent in the summer months. Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. If you plan on boating, keep your child in an appropriate size life jacket at all times. I’ve recently shared advice about what to do immediately if you think an infant, child or teen is drowning here.
The doctor in me says stay away from fireworks, and I do hope everyone is able to have an awesome holiday without so much WORRY while we spend quality time with those we love. What a sincere privilege it is to celebrate our remarkable freedoms and keep working as a nation to keep perfecting this great union.