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Summer Safety: Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July

In 1775, the first shots at Lexington and Concord were fired, marking the beginnings of the American Revolution. Today, Americans take time each year on July 4th to celebrate the birth of our nation and commemorate those who fought for our freedom. Like many Americans, you may be planning to have a festive Fourth of July. Along with barbeques and day at the beach, no July holiday celebration would be complete without enjoying the fireworks that celebrate the birth of our nation. Perhaps you are considering staying at home and planning a get-together with friends and family. Or, you may want to go check out your local professional fireworks display.

Safety Tips

On this day of backyard barbecues, fireworks, and outdoor fun, remember to keep a few safety tips in mind:

  1. Leave Fireworks to the Professionals
    Although it is legal for private citizens to buy and use fireworks within Oklahoma there are certain conditions and prohibitions and certain cities have additional ordinances.
    Instead of buying your own fireworks, you might be thinking, “Just where are the fireworks displays near me this year?”
  2. Keep Children Safe
    Whether on the playground or at a campground, make sure children are supervised while celebrating outside during the holiday. Keep fireworks and sparklers out of reach of children at all times. Remove pieces of small toys, balloons, and other items that may be potential choking hazards or dangerous to small children.
  3. Consume Alcohol Responsibly
    Drive sober or get pulled over.  Establish a designated driver in advance to bring partygoers home from 4th of July festivities. Know your limits when drinking alcohol and don’t overindulge. Also remember to establish a designated driver for driving your boat if you are going out on the water.
  4. Bring Sunscreen
    Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before participating in outdoor activities to reduce the risk for one of the most preventable types of cancer: skin cancer. Protect children from the sun by having them wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen, as well as suggesting they play in shaded areas. Consult your pediatrician before using sunscreen on infants.
  5. Review Safe Boating Practices
    Heading out on the water is a great way to take in the spectacular summer weather and outdoor scenery that Oklahoma has to offer. Look over safe boating practices before embarking on your next trip. Remember to equip your boat with lifejackets in appropriate sizes and types for the intended wearers – even pets. Stay alert while navigating, and follow state boating laws by traveling at safe speeds.
  6. Check for Ticks
    Protect yourself from tick-borne and mosquitoborne diseases including West Nile Virus and Lyme disease by knowing how to recognize ticks. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after being outdoors, especially in moist, wooded, or grassy areas, and be sure to perform a tick check. Use fine-tuned tweezers to remove ticks immediately. Keep backyards free from rotting leaves and damp grasses to eliminate potential breeding grounds. Find out more about ticks and how to remove them.
  7. Stay Hydrated
    Drink plenty of fluids while spending time outside in the hot sun to avoid heat illness. Consumption of alcohol also causes dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water with any adult beverages. Keep cool by staying in the shade when possible. Look after pets, infants, and the elderly, all of whom are more susceptible to heat stroke.
    Whether you’re celebrating the birth of our nation with barbecues or by camping with friends, follow these simple precautions for a safe holiday. Bring sunscreen, stay hydrated, and be mindful of outdoor creatures. Click here for 6 Tips for Staying Hydrated.

Pet Safety on July 4th

While putting the finishing touches on your planned celebration, take a moment to consider your pets. Unlike people, pets don’t associate the noise, flashes, and burning smell of pyrotechnics with celebrations. Pets are terrified of fireworks, and often panic at the loud whizzes and bangs they produce.
Because of this, the American Humane Association reports that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Why? In a 2005 press release the Indiana Proactive Animal Welfare, Inc. (PAW) stated that animal shelters the day after Fourth of July are “inundated with pets that panicked at the noise of firecrackers and fled into the night, winding up lost, injured or killed.”
Both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and PAW have listed ways you can prevent your holiday celebration from turning into a tragedy. Here are 10 tips on how to keep your pet from panicking this Fourth of July weekend.

  1. Keep your Pet Indoors at All Times!
    It may seem obvious, but even if your pet is used to being outside, the resulting panic caused by fireworks or other loud noises may make them break their restraint or jump a fence in a terrified attempt to find safety.
  2. Don’t Put Insect Repellant on Your Pet that isn’t Specifically for Pet Use
    The same tip applies to applying “people” sunscreen on your pet. What isn’t toxic to humans can be toxic to animals. The ASPCA lists the poisonous effects of sunscreen on your pet as, “…drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.” DEET, a common insecticide, may cause neurological issues.
  3. Alcoholic Drinks Poison Pets
    If your pet drinks alcohol, they can become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, or in severe cases, die from respiratory failure. Yes, even beer is toxic; fermented hops and ethanol are poisonous to dogs and cats.
  4. Going to a Fireworks Display? Leave Your Pet at Home
    The safest place for your pet is at home, not in a crowded, unfamiliar and noisy place. The combination of too many people and loud fireworks will make your beloved pet freak out and desperately seek shelter. Locking them in the car is also not an option; your pet may suffer brain damage and heat stroke.
  5. Have Your Pet Properly Identified
    If your pet manages to break loose and become lost, without proper identification it will be that much harder to get them back. Consider fitting your pet with microchip identification, ID tags with their name and your phone number, or both. It is also a good idea to have a recent picture of your pets in case you have to put up signs.
  6. Keep Your Pet Away from Glow Jewelry
    It might look cute, but your pet could chew up and swallow the plastic adornments. The ASPCA states that while not highly toxic, “excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.”
  7. NEVER Use Fireworks Around Pets
    While lit fireworks can pose a danger to curious pets and potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws, even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Some fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals.
  8. Don’t Give Your Pet “Table Food”
    If you are having a backyard barbeque, you may be tempted to slip some snacks to your pet. But like beer and chocolate, there are other festive foods that could harm your pet. Onions, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough are all possible hazards for dogs and cats.
  9. Lighter Fluid and Matches Are Harmful to Pets
    The ASPCA lists chlorates as a harmful chemical substance found in some matches that, if ingested, can cause your pet difficulty in breathing, damage blood cells or even cause kidney disease. If exposed to lighter fluid, your pet may sustain skin irritation on contact, respiratory problems if inhaled, and gastric problems if ingested.
  10. Citronella Insect Control Products Harm Pets, Too
    Oils, candles, insect coils and other citronella-based repellants are irritating toxins to pets, according to the ASPCA. The result of inhalation can cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, and ingestion can harm your pet’s nervous system.
Note: The safest and best bet for celebrating this Fourth of July with your pets is to exclude them from holiday festivities, at least this time around. Instead, find a safe, secure spot in the home for your pets while you go out and enjoy the loud bangs, bright lights and spectator fun. Your pets will appreciate the quiet a lot more than you’ll enjoy the noise.

Final Tips for Fireworks and Grilling Safety

Ensure your Independence Day weekend is filled with celebration and not regret with these 10 fire safety tips, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

  1. Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before using or buying them.
  2. Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers alone account for one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
  3. If you set off fireworks, keep a bucket of water handy in case of malfunction or fire.
  4. If fireworks malfunction, don’t relight them! Douse and soak them with water then throw them away.
  5. Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one that is glass or metal.
  6. Use your grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under branches or overhangs.
  7. Open your gas grill before lighting.
  8. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below your gas or propane grill so it cannot be ignited.
  9. Declare a three-foot “kid and pet-free zone” around the grill to keep them safe.
  10. Avoid loose clothing that can catch fire when cooking on the grill.

Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!