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“The Most Dangerous Holiday of the Year” – July 4th. That is, according to Forbes Magazine. And they’re right. It’s 1 out of maybe 10 holidays that almost all Americans celebrate. The great John Adams saw to that, when he declared July 4th to be a “great anniversary Festival…solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Guns + Fires + Parades = Danger. At least he states the importance of wearing shoes.

All jest aside, it’s a dangerous holiday and we need to recognize that and learn how to celebrate safely. Let’s make a very simple, straightforward list of why July 4th is literally one of the deadliest holiday weekends in America. Let us also make some suggestions on how to be safer this July 4th.

If You’re Not a Pyrotechnician, Don’t Light Fireworks.

There’s good reason for the stringent laws surrounding pyrotechnics. A lot of people simply don’t realize that they’re handling a weapon. They’re dangerous, just like cars, and for that reason they should not be handled by someone who is not a licensed professional. Some enthusiasts purchase illegal fireworks, which have grave potential to injure anyone in the vicinity when they go off, especially if handled improperly. Some of these illegal fireworks yield more firepower than those found at professional firework shows, handled by professionals.

But believe it or not, the fireworks that most often cause injuries are the smaller ones…especially if they have short fuses and are handled incorrectly. We’re not saying smaller fireworks are more dangerous, but think about the kids. Even a sparkler can cause serious burns if not handled properly. Just check out this Newsweek Article on Firework Injuries – they are meant to be handled by professionals and only professionals. So, simply stated, if you want to see fireworks, go to a fireworks show.

Don’t get burned.

If we’re going to talk about burns, we can’t forget about barbecues. They seem innocent, right? That is, until you have kids running around – and that’s usually the case on July 4th. It’s a really good idea to keep the barbecue area, and the area between the barbecue and the food table, closed off. A child running into the chef or the barbeque itself can cause serious injury. A little caution tape could help, as well as making it very clear to the children that the cooking area is off limits.

Keep the pool safe.

The kids get hyped. They’re with their best friends, neighborly friends, their cousins, and they’re likely overly excited for pool time. If you’re unsure of their swimming abilities, make them wear floaties. It’s one thing when you and your child are by yourselves hanging by the pool and you have a close eye on them…it’s a totally different ball field when your pool becomes public. The last thing you want is a swimming pool accident. And then there’s the heat. The heat can seriously get to you, your children, and your pets. If you start to feel nauseous, feel a rapid heartbeat or start to breathe at a rapid pace, get to a cool place quickly. This could mean heat exhaustion. Keep your children, your pets, and yourself hydrated – it’s looking to be quite hot this July 4th. And don’t forget your sunscreen either.

Never drink and drive, and don’t let anyone around you do it either.

Don’t be that person, and don’t let that person next to you be that person. Pensicola News Journal reported in 2014 that roughly 40% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents recorded over the previous years happened on one day: July 4th. Is that not staggering? So, we can safely say this holiday is not a good time to be on the road.

This year, July 4th occurs on a Monday. Not so convenient, right? Remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving. You may end up driving across town to that block party yourself. You may end up losing your inhibitions and having a few drinks, but you still need your car for work tomorrow. Luckily, there’s a service located on Long Island that will literally drive to you and drive your car home so you have it ready for work the next day. IDriveYourCar has put together a simplistic business model to save lives. Palermo Tuohy Bruno, P.L.L.C. does not endorse this service, but we do believe it’s worth looking into.

We urge you to take all of these tips into consideration. We fought hard for our right to freedom. And we have every right to celebrate it happily. But it’s crucial to recognize how dangerous this holiday can be, and to take the right precautions. Have a happy 4th of July, but make sure it’s a safe one.