Each month, this series will provide important facts and tips surrounding child safety in an effort to support parents and caregivers as they navigate reducing risks and creating the safest environment possible for the children in their lives.
If you’re getting ready to celebrate our nation’s independence this month, make sure to take a moment to prepare your family’s youngest members to stay safe this 4th of July! Festive additions like cookouts and fireworks are lots of fun, but all of that excitement can also pose safety threats for children and families, so we’ve rounded up some important tips to keep everyone as safe as possible this July 4th.
Fireworks and Sparklers
Believe it or not, sparklers are actually most responsible for fireworks-related injuries in children. While they’re easy for little hands to hold, they are very dangerous when not supervised or given to age-appropriate kids. Lighting sparklers and other fireworks one at a time is the safest way to enjoy them; and have a bucket of water nearby to help extinguish when completed. Have all participants keep a safe distance from where fireworks are being lit and going off. If using sparklers, remind kids to stay at least an arms length apart from one another. Don’t forget ear protection for the littlest of ears in your family! And kids of all ages need to be reminded it’s never funny or appropriate to shoot off a firework towards another person, as an injury could occur.
Cookouts, Grilling and Bonfires
When you hear the words “Fourth of July,” the scent of roasting hamburgers and hotdogs may instantly come to mind. Cookouts are a great way to celebrate; just remember that grills get really hot and stay hot for a long period of time. Make sure everyone works together to keep kids away from the grilling area to avoid burns. If you’re planning a bonfire, make sure you are set up away from any overhanging tree branches, powerlines or near very dry areas. Place seating a safe distance away from the fire and encourage people to rearrange themselves out of the direction of smoke. Have any snacks or smores ingredients away from the fire, so kids aren’t too close as they try to get their treat ready. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby for emergencies.
Sun Exposure and Summer Heat
Summer holidays are best enjoyed outside! Before you head into the sun, take proper precautions to avoid risks of heat exhaustion, sunburns, thermal burns and more. Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to exposed skin, and wear protective gear like sunglasses, hats and breathable clothing. Fill a water bottle with clear drinking water or low sugar high electrolyte beverages, like Gatorade. While the kiddos are going to have their eyes on things like smores, remind them to take water breaks! Provide guidelines to your older children of what they need to do before stepping outside to celebrate with friends and prepare these same needs for you, your little ones or caregivers.
Alcohol and Substance Misuse
While there is nothing wrong with celebrating your summer holiday with an adult beverage, be thoughtful about maintaining healthy limits and behaviors. Of course, limit your intake to a healthy amount, and make sure you are at your event long enough to drive home safely or have other plans like public transport for your family. If you have older children or teenagers, keep in mind the importance of modeling responsible substance use and that your kids are watching your behavior. Make sure to keep any adult beverages out of reach of little hands and remind older kids which coolers and areas are for them.
Stranger Danger & Public Events
If you’re planning to celebrate at a public event, remind your children about “stranger danger” and protocol in large crowds. Set clear expectations for staying close and what happens if they get separated for any reason. Choose a predetermined meeting spot for your family. Take a photo of each of your children before heading out for the festivities in case of an emergency, allowing you to quickly recall what they are wearing in your search to locate them. Consider dressing your kids in matching outfits, hats or colors to easily spot them in a crowd. Young families can now even purchase temporary tattoos that include your contact information that can be adhered to their hand or arm.
Taking Action If Injury or Accidents Occur
Always have a first aid kit easily nearby as well as any important documents such as lists of medications your child is currently taking and phone numbers for contact information for pediatricians and emergency contacts. If you are unsure about the severity or care of an injury but have concern, don’t wait to head to your nearest emergency room or call 911.