The Fourth of July celebrates freedom and epitomizes summer. It’s a weekend to relax and recover, enjoy time with friends and family and marvel at firework shows. However, with safety hazards and a spike in drunk driving, the Fourth of July is also considered one of the most dangerous holidays.
Two years ago, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for firework-related injuries. Last year, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported 1,124 driving while intoxicated arrests during Independence Day weekend.
You’re Not Free From Danger
In 2011, fireworks caused about 17,800 fires, resulting in eight civilian deaths, 40 injuries and $32 million in property damage. The Fourth of July sees more fires than any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of these fires.
Burn injuries are another holiday hazard; 57 percent of 2012 firework-related injuries were due to burns. Margaret Corn, assistant fire marshal at the University Park Fire Department, said, “The most common injury on the Fourth of July is a burn injury to the hand or finger.
Sparklers Aren’t Always Safe
Sparklers and bottle rockets may seem harmless and kid-friendly, but they accounted for nearly 40 percent of all estimated injuries in 2013. Reaching up to 1,200 degrees, sparklers can cause a third degree burn to the hands or face. Eye injury is another risk when handling sparklers, especially among children.
Follow These Safety Suggestions
The Fourth of July doesn’t have to be dangerous. Corn said, “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.”
See more safety suggestions below:
-Teach your children to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire.
-Ensure fireworks are legal in your area. If you are in Dallas or within 5,000 feet outside city limits, fireworks are illegal.
-Stay at least 500 feet from a professional firework show.
-Make sure your home has working smoke alarms. If you do not, call 3-1-1, and Dallas Fire-Rescue will install an alarm for free.
-Do not touch fireworks after consuming alcohol.
Corn also advises, “Maintain a 10-foot distance from your home and grills or other open flame devices, have an operable fire extinguisher or water hose available and properly discard the ashes from your grill in a metal container.”
The Highway Hazard
The Fourth of July poses another threat: drunk drivers on Texas highways. During the weekend, Texas troopers will be out in force looking for drunk drivers. DPS Director Steven McCraw suggests designating a sober driver before consuming alcohol.
Police will also issue speeding and safety seatbelt citations. Last year, Texas DPS issued more than 15,700 speeding tickets and about 2,400 seat belt-child safety seat citations. Therefore, all drivers should be aware of increased police enforcement this weekend.