Friends, Food and Fireworks: Safety Tips to Consider this Independence Day

July 2, 2019

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Kristy L. Ziontz, D.O. contributes to topics such as Emergency Medicine.

By Sabrina Scarpa

For many, celebrating the Fourth of July means hosting a barbeque, gathering with loved ones and watching fireworks light up the sky.

While fun is to be had, try your best to be safe and make smart choices. Taking preventative measures can save you or someone you know a trip to the emergency room over the holiday weekend.

Friends- Look out for one another.

As you gather for July 4th activities, be mindful of how much time you spend in the sun and remember to hydrate.

Kristy Ziontz, D.O., chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Riverview Medical Center recommends following these safety tips for beating the heat.

  1. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours.
  1. Take breaks from the heat, especially if you’re continuously sweating.
  1. Drink water. Also, consider drinking liquids with electrolytes to help your body replenish its salt content and return to a comfortable temperature.
  1. Encourage others to rest indoors and rehydrate, too.

“Children, the elderly and pets are at the highest risk for heat-related illness,” explains Dr. Ziontz. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., to avoid too much sun exposure.

Food- Ask before you eat.

Grill and Food Safety may not be among your top concerns, but they should be. Remembering these quick tips can save you and your guests from food-related harm.

  1. Designate a grilling station. To protect everyone, especially children and pets, maintain a 3-foot boundary surrounding your grill.
  2. Ask if anyone has food allergies. Make sure there’s something on the menu that everyone can eat safely.
  3. Keep food refrigerated before and after cooking. Once food reaches what’s called the “Danger Zone” (40 °F to 140 °F), bacteria rapidly grow. The United States Department of Agriculture warns that bacteria in your food can cause food poisoning and other illnesses.
  4. Cover and store leftovers promptly. To reduce the risk of bugs and bacteria contaminating your leftovers, store food in shallow containers within two hours of serving it.

Fireworks- Look, don’t touch.

In 2017, Governor Christie signed a bill legalizing hand-held sparklers, ground-based sparklers, party poppers and snappers. Since then, firework safety is a top concern of first responders in New Jersey.

The National Fire Protection Association urges people to leave fireworks to the professionals. Sparklers burn at 1200 °F which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns. “Sparklers account for roughly one-quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries,” says Dr. Ziontz.

Rather than risking serious injury, talk with your family and friends to come up with creative alternatives. Glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark bubbles, and confetti launchers are safer suggestions.

If you plan to light fireworks, know and follow all safety precautions. You can refer to this article for more safety information.

Accidents don’t usually happen on your schedule. Hackensack Meridian Health Convenient Care is available when you need it most…including evenings, weekends and holidays. When a health care issue comes up and your physician is not available, Convenient Care is the easy choice for quick, quality care you can trust. Learn more, or find a location near you.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.