As we get ready to celebrate Independence Day, many of us plan to attend fireworks displays, a backyard picnic, or perhaps enjoy fun in the water at a waterpark, beach or pool. The American Red Cross wants you to enjoy a fun-packed, safe holiday and offers these tips you can follow over the upcoming holiday.

FIREWORKS SAFETY
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public firework show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks. If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. 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.

PICNIC AND GRILLING SAFETY

Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs. If you are going to cook on a grill, always supervise the grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe. Never grill indoors. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.  Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.

WATER SAFETY
Children and adults should learn to swim so they at least achieve the skills of water competency: be able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance and then get out of the water safely. Watch the weather and get out of the water at the first sign of lightning or the rumble of thunder. Stay indoors and away from water for 30 minutes after the last lightning flashes or thunder roars. Plan ahead for aquatic activities:

Provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Always swim in a lifeguarded area. Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Wear protective clothing, including a hat and some kind of cover-up for when you’ve had enough sun. Use sunscreen before leaving home and reapply during the day.

HEAT SAFETY

Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat. If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places like schools, libraries, theaters, malls, etc. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays. Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Postpone outdoor games and activities. Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors. Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.    

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.