Tips for Enjoying a Safe 4th of July | MUSK
Think “July 4th” and you are probably thinking of fireworks. Depending on your family tradition, you could also imagine the swimming pool, the beach or the grill.
All fun activities – and the folks at MUSC Health and MUSC Children’s Health want to make sure you enjoy them safely and for years to come. Two experts gave some tips for enjoying the upcoming holiday weekend in a way that keeps everyone’s fingers and toes intact.
Steven Kahn, MD, the chief of burn surgery, has seen many disfiguring and potentially fatal injuries from fireworks during his career.
During a particularly intense July 4, while working in Nashville, he treated 31 victims of fireworks injuries. It’s a record he hopes will never match here in Charleston.
It’s best to leave the fireworks to the professionals, said Christa Green, pediatric trauma injury prevention coordinator.
âFireworks are inherently incredibly dangerous. Even the best-intentioned people should leave it to the professionals, âshe said. Last year saw about 15,600 fireworks-related emergency room visits across the United States, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Fortunately, most municipalities in the Charleston area have resumed their public exhibits after canceling them last year due to concerns about large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Kahn and Green have offered some advice for those who wish to set off their own fireworks.
First, the fireworks should be set off in a 20-foot safety zone that no one enters except for a designated lighter, they said.
Kahn said the designated lighter should wear eye protection and make sure not to light any fireworks while holding them.
Don’t mix alcohol and pyrotechnics, Kahn added. And don’t pick up or try to rekindle a dud.
At the end of the night, make sure all used fireworks are doused with water and cooled before throwing them away, Kahn said.
They both warned against sparklers, which can reach 1,200 degrees. Holding multiple sparklers only intensifies that heat and may cause them to shoot flames, Kahn said. Green suggested allowing the children to wave light sticks instead.
Grilling can also cause burns. Similar to fireworks, Green suggested a three-foot âmaster grill areaâ around the grill that no one else enters. She also suggested going without lighter fluid and, of course, making sure the grill is safely away from the house and trees.
Fireworks and grilling aren’t the only possible dangers to watch out for, however. Pools and beaches are fun, but any body of water can be dangerous.
Everyone, children and adults, should learn to swim as a life skill. Of course, this won’t happen over a weekend, so children should be supervised at all times. That means distraction-free supervision, Green said, not an adult who âsupervisesâ while scrolling the phone, reading a book, or toasting and glancing back every now and then.
âDrowning can happen in an instant, and it can be silent,â she said.
The floats are not a replacement for a US Coast Guard approved life jacket, she said.
In any body of water, children should always be on hand. If a pool has a fence, the gate should lock securely so children can’t get in – don’t rely on a child to listen when you say, “Don’t go into the pool without me,” Green said. Most beaches in the Charleston area have lifeguards but don’t depend on a lifeguard for your child’s safety, she said. They have to watch over hundreds of people while you can focus on your own child.
Finally, Green noted that we are entering the hottest weeks of the year and people should remember to never leave children or pets alone in the car for any time.
âMost of the temperature rise occurs within the first half hour,â she said.
Children should be taught not to play in cars, and cars at home, even in the garage, should be locked so that children cannot enter to play.
If you’re in public and see a child or pet in a car, even if the windows are cracked, don’t hesitate to call 911, she said.