ALABAMA (WRBL) – The Alabama Department of Public Health is offering tips for celebrating the Fourth of July weekend safely.

Experts are offering tips on firework safety, food safety, water safety, beach safety, preventing waterborne illnesses, sun and heat safety, and driving safety.


Fireworks
Thousands of people are treated in emergency rooms each year for burns and injuries caused by the improper use of fireworks. To ensure a safe holiday, ADPH recommends leaving the fireworks shows to the professionals. However, if fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, please follow these safety tips:

  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.

For more fireworks safety tips, visit alabamapublichealth.gov/injuryprevention/holiday.html#fs

Food Safety
As you get ready to fire up your grill, be sure to observe these four steps of food safety:

  • Clean your hands, utensils, and surfaces often.
  • Separate raw foods such as meat and eggs from other items in your grocery cart, on your counter, and in your refrigerator.
  • Cook food to the right temperature. Don’t count on color and texture to indicate the safety of cooked items — use a food thermometer.
  • Chill leftover perishables like meat, eggs, and seafood within 2 hours of purchasing or cooking (or within 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit).

Find more food safety tips, including a list of safe minimum internal temperatures, at fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/safe-food-handling.

Water Safety
If your holiday plans include a trip to the pool, lake, or beach, keep these safety tips in mind.
General Swim Safety

  • Educate children about the rules of water safety.
  • Never allow children to swim without adult supervision.
  • When supervising children, do not engage in distracting behaviors such as talking on the phone or reading. Watch and listen continuously.

Beach Safety

  • Only swim in areas where a lifeguard is present.
  • Check water conditions before going in by looking at the local beach forecast (weather.gov/safety/ripcurrent-forecasts) and by talking to the lifeguard.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, relax — rip currents don’t pull you under. Do NOT try to swim directly to shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the current. Then swim at an angle away from the current and towards the shore.

Preventing the Spread of Waterborne Illnesses

  • Stay out of the water if sick with diarrhea.
  • Do not pee or poop in the water.
  • Do not swallow the water.
  • Take kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers every hour.

More healthy and safe swimming tips can be found at cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/and alabamapublichealth.gov/injuryprevention/water.html.

Sun and Heat Safety
Too much exposure to the sun can be dangerous in a variety of ways. Follow these simple steps to prevent heat illnesses and skin cancer.
Heat Illnesses
When your body heats too rapidly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, you may experience a heat-related illness. Know the signs and symptoms so you can get help immediately:

  • Heat Stroke: body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; dizziness; nausea, confusion; unconsciousness
  • Heat Exhaustion: paleness, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting
  • Heat Cramps: muscle pains or spasms associated with strenuous activity

For more information on symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent and treat them, visit alabamapublichealth.gov/injuryprevention/heat.html.

Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is one of the most common — and preventable — forms of cancer. A simple strategy combining the regular use of sunscreen, seeking shade during the peak hours of sun intensity, and wearing protective clothing and accessories can help prevent this deadly disease.
Get more information on preventing skin cancer at alabamapublichealth.gov/cancer/skin.html.

Driving Safety
If alcoholic beverages are included in your Fourth of July celebration, please remember that driving a car or operating a boat while impaired can have serious consequences for you and for those sharing the roads and waterways with you.

  • Plan ahead: If you wait until you’ve been drinking to make the right decision, you might not. Before you have one drink, designate a sober driver who won’t be drinking.
  • If it’s your turn to be the designated driver, take your job seriously and don’t drink.
  • If a designated driver is not an option, consider using public transportation, calling a ride service, or simply staying where you are.