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4 steps to a safer Fourth of July

Illustration of a family watching fireworks.

June 30, 2022—Accidents happen, even when we’re trying to be careful. Still, Independence Day weekend can be a surprisingly dangerous time. Consider: Every year, roughly 10,000 people end up in the emergency department with an injury from sparklers, firecrackers or bottle rockets, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fortunately, turning your Fourth of July celebration into a safety zone is just a matter of making a few tweaks.

Watch for fireworks. If you buy fireworks, don’t allow young children to play with or ignite them. That includes sparklers and firecrackers. Better yet: View fireworks from a distance, at public displays.

Keep bad bugs at bay. As the temperature climbs, harmful foodborne bacteria double in number every 20 minutes. One in 6 of us gets sick every year from foodborne pathogens. These safe moves can help keep food fresh and healthy:

  • Give foods the big chill. Don’t leave perishable picnic foods, such as egg and potato salad, meat (even if it’s cooked), or any dairy-based foods out for more than two hours. Shorten that to one hour if it’s 90 degrees or hotter outside. Set a timer on your phone as a reminder.
  • Turn up the heat. When grilling, use a meat thermometer and place it in the thickest part of the cut. Ground beef should reach 160 degrees; chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees. That’s the temperature meat needs to reach to kill any harmful bacteria.
  • Keep it clean. Before, during and after handling food and before eating, wash your hands. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer.

Watch out around water. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4. If you’re near water, assign a responsible adult to keep a watchful eye on young swimmers. Weak swimmers should wear life jackets in and around swimming pools. And everyone should wear life jackets when boating in natural water, such as the ocean or lakes.

Safeguard your skin. While you’re enjoying the outdoors, the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays can seep in, increasing the risk of skin cancer. To protect yourself, wear a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Slather it on and reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.

Are you applying enough sunscreen? View our Sunscreen smarts video to be sure.

Additional sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Red Cross; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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