By Kathy Hubbard
Last week I said I could go on and on when it came to summer safety, so this week I’m going to fulfill that promise and go on about having a safe 4th of July. Just because it lands smack in the middle of the week, doesn’t mean it’s lost its potential for disasters.
Let me start with a true story. When I was seven, we went to my grandmother’s for a 4th of July party. My cousins, brothers and I were walking down the quiet neighborhood street that dead-ended at a creek with the intent of putting our toes in the water. A boy, around 10 years old was on the other side of the street lighting off firecrackers.
We watched him curiously because we weren’t allowed to touch matches much less fireworks. At one point he lit something and threw it towards the street. I don’t think it was intentional, we didn’t know him, but this cherry-bomb hit me in the ribcage right after it exploded. The bang was deafening. The burn was excruciatingly painful. Dang those things get hot!
The boy went running home. I went running to Grandma’s. We all got a lecture on fire and safety. The point of telling you this story is that I want you all to give a fire safety lecture to your children and grandchildren. You may do something thoughtlessly, like trying to relight a fizzled rocket, but you know better. Do your kids?
Do you know that children under twelve should not touch a sparkler? The heat of a sparkler can melt gold! When you give a lit sparkler to your pre-teens, be sure to tell them that they need to point them away from themselves, but not at each other. They’re not to be used as wizard wands or light sabers or whatever other weapons are popular in fiction today.
Teach the kids to make sure they’re totally out by dunking them in a bucket of water before throwing them away, and make sure there’s a supervising adult with them at all times.
The American Red Cross says, “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals,” And, I agree wholeheartedly, especially since we have such great displays in Sandpoint, Hope and Clark Fork.
“If someone is setting fireworks off at home, they should follow these safety steps: Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
“Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight ‘a dud.’ Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks,” advises the Red Cross.
And, while we’re talking about things that burn, let’s turn for a second to outdoor grilling. Please teach your kids to stay away from the grill. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends creating a “three-foot ‘kid and pet-free zone’ around the grill to keep them safe.
“Use your grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under branches or overhangs. Open your gas grill before lighting. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below your gas or propane grill so it cannot be ignited, and avoid loose clothing that can catch fire when cooking on the grill,” FEMA says.
And, I can’t say it often enough. When talking about things that burn, your skin will if you don’t use proper protection. How often can I say, “Read the product labels?” Well, I just did it two weeks in a row.
One more thing about reading labels, be sure to read the pamphlet(s) you’ve received about the prescription medications that you take to make certain that you won’t have a sun-sensitizing drug reaction.
By the way, the Red Cross has a free first aid app that you can download. It puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips. Please have a fun, safe holiday!
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.