June 29, 2018

Keep your Independence Day celebrations safe

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo - As families and friends gather to celebrate the July Fourth holiday it is important to take safety precautions to prevent injury and illness.

"This is a great time of year to get outside with the kids, watch the parades and fireworks, and barbecue in the backyard with friends and neighbors," said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). "Taking basic safety precautions can prevent a variety of injuries and illnesses, and could even save your life or that of your loved ones."

Firework Safety. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave it to the professionals and attend one of the many free displays across the state. If you will be lighting your own fireworks be sure to:

  • Obey all local laws regarding fireworks.
  • Have a responsible adult supervise all fireworks; do not give fireworks to children.
  • Fireworks and alcohol do not mix, save the alcohol for after the show.

Tick and Mosquito Bite Prevention. Ticks and mosquitoes may be small pests but their bite can have big consequences. DHSS remains concerned about the prevalence of ticks and mosquitoes throughout Missouri. The following safety precautions will help prevent both established and emerging diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes.

  • Use insect repellent with a minimum 20% DEET, picaridin or IR3535.
  • When possible wear light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Always check yourself, family and friends for ticks after spending time outdoors.
  • Remove ticks promptly.

Take two minutes to protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes.

Food Safety. Whether you are having a picnic, barbecue or fish fry, some simple food safety steps can prevent foodborne illness from crashing your celebration. The following safety guidelines should be followed:

  • Always wash your hands before preparing foods and after handling raw meats, as well as before and after eating.
  • Keep hot food hot (135°F or above) and cold food cold (41°F or below). Left overs not kept under temperature control should be discarded if left out over two hours.
  • Cook foods completely. Hamburgers should reach 155°F, fish and pork 145°F and chicken or other poultry 165°F.
  • Avoid cross contamination of foods by keeping them separate and well wrapped.

Find more food safety tips here.

Water Safety. Missouri has a wealth of recreational water areas from backyard ponds, lakes and streams to multi-million gallon water parks with wave pools and slides. All these recreational water options provide hours of fun, but dangers can lurk in the water. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury worldwide and among Missouri's children. The majority child drowning fatalities in Missouri occurred in unsupervised children under the age of five.

A drowning can occur quickly and silently in a matter of seconds and young children can drown in as little as one inch of water. Children under the age of one are most likely to drown at home in a bathtub or bucket. Children aged one through five are most likely to drown in a pool. Children aged five and older are most likely to drown in open water such a lake, pond, stream or river. By following the safety tips below you can reduce the risk of drowning this holiday:

  • Never leave a child unattended in or near water.
  • Actively supervise children and stay within arm's reach of young children. Avoid distractions.
  • Teach children water safety skills and swimming skills as early as possible.
  • Only swim in designated areas, preferably with a lifeguard. Remember lifeguards provide assistance in emergencies and should not be relied on for supervision.
  • Warn children to stay away from drains in pools.
  • Install proper barriers and covers around your pool and spa.
  • Wear life jackets as appropriate. Life jackets should be US Coast Guard certified, the proper size for the individual, and in good condition. Floatation devices are not a substitution for adult supervision.
  • Know CPR and if a child is missing check the water first.

"The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays but unfortunately it can also be one of the most dangerous holidays of the year," said Williams. "No matter how you are celebrating this year be it watching a fireworks display, tubing down a river or feasting on a backyard barbecue, we want you to do it safely."

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

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