The Fourth of July is supposed to be a celebration of freedom and independence, yet thousands of families spend the day suffering tragic injuries and losses. Each year, the Fourth of July is one of the deadliest days in America. It’s up to you to do your part this year and stay safe.
July 4th: Deadly and Dangerous
For most people, the Fourth of July is a holiday filled with good food, friends, and family, and lots of laughter. Unfortunately, factors like boating, interstate traffic, alcohol, and fireworks often create a deadly concoction.
There’s nothing more American than spending the Fourth of July on a boat with friends and family. Sadly, there are few other times when boating is as deadly.
“The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is urging all boaters to use extra caution while boating during the upcoming July 4th holiday,” The American Boating Association said in a recent press release. “The 4th of July, along with Memorial Day and Labor Day, typically account for more than one third of all boating related accidents and fatalities.”
This isn’t to say you can’t go out on the water this summer holiday – but do practice caution. Life jackets are a must – as is an inspection prior to cranking up the boat. Safe night driving is particularly important, since more people are out on the water after dark to watch fireworks. Be sure to maintain a safe speed and have multiple people watching out for other boats and individuals in the water. And, as always, alcohol and operating a boat never go together.
Highways and interstates all over the country are packed with travelers and vacationers on this holiday. More than 43 million people hit the road last year and experts predict similar volume this year. While that’s great for the economy, it’s not always good news for the health and safety of the country. Each year, this holiday is the deadliest day of the year for drivers. On average, there are more than 118 crash-related deaths each Fourth of July.
Alcohol is one contributing factor, but isn’t always involved. Many deaths result from speeding, road rage, and a lack of familiarity with new roadways. In order to keep your family safe, it’s important that you follow basic safety practices and remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
“If everyone buckled up, didn’t drink and drive and obeyed the speed limit, July Fourth would be a lot safer,” IIHS spokesman Russ Rader says. “And it may sound obvious, but if you’re riding a motorcycle, always wear a helmet. Motorcycle crashes also play a significant role in the deaths that occur on the Fourth.”
Fireworks are a staple on July Fourth. Everyone likes to have fun and celebrate with a big display. However, fireworks aren’t very safe. And while you would think people get smarter, injuries and deaths are on the rise.
In 2015, 11,900 people were taken to the hospital with fireworks-related injuries. That was the highest number in 15 years. There were also 11 deaths – nine of which resulted from improper use.
You don’t have to avoid fireworks, but do make sure you’re being smart. Watch children very carefully and never leave them unsupervised around fireworks. You also shouldn’t let people close to the firework display who have been drinking.
Finally, there’s the issue of alcohol consumption. Research shows that 41 percent of deaths on the Fourth involve high blood alcohol concentration levels. While alcohol can be enjoyed, it should be done so within reason.
Because of the summer heat – and the fact that many July Fourth celebrations last all day and late into the evening – it’s important to pace yourself and stay hydrated. Too much alcohol can leave you susceptible to dehydration, as well as making stupid mistakes related to boating, driving, or the use of fireworks.
Keep track of the number of drinks you have during the day. As a rule of thumb, you should drink at least one bottle of water in between each alcoholic beverage. It’s also wise to keep an eye on friends to make sure that they aren’t overdoing things. If there’s ever a question as to whether or not someone is sober, call an Uber at the end of the night.
Stay Safe This Fourth of July
Nothing is more important than safety this Fourth of July holiday. While it’s possible to have fun boating, road tripping, shooting off fireworks, and drinking beer, don’t do so at the expense of your family’s health and safety. Be cautious and you’ll be able to enjoy Independence Day for years to come.