It’s that time of the year again! Fourth of July firework festivities and exciting summer parties are right around the corner and the weather is looking perfect to celebrate. However, if you’re hoping to have a memorable July 4th weekend, you may want to put just as much focus on planning for safety as you do your recreational activities to prevent your holiday memories from including an unpleasant trip to the hospital.
The Dangers of Independence Day
In the last few years, Long Island has seen its fair share of injuries and fatal accidents surrounding Independence Day celebrations:
- Last July, a Fort Salonga man had his fingers amputated after a firework exploded in his hand. He had injuries on both hands and was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital for burn treatment.
- Not more than a few days after the Fort Salonga man’s accident, another man in Uniondale also blew off several fingers and sustained severe burns to his face, neck, and hands when he attempted to light a mortar firework while holding it.
- Four people were killed in a two-vehicle crash in Yaphank on July 4th in 2016. The driver of a truck was erratically driving on slick roads when he crashed into another car. The driver of the truck along with three individuals in the other car were killed, while two additional passengers in the car that was hit sustained injuries.
These tragic examples are only a few of the possible dangers Long Island patriots could run into when celebrating this weekend. Being aware of the hazards and how to prevent them is the first step to keeping your family and loved ones safe on Fourth of July.
Thousands of fireworks are set off every year in celebration of American Independence. Unfortunately, a number of the products are used incorrectly and can cause horrific injuries. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports fireworks are responsible for an average of 18,500 fires and 10,500 injuries every year.
NFPA reports injuries can include amputations, first and second degree burns, fractures, or vision/hearing loss, affecting parts of the body such as…
- hand or finger (36%)
- head, face or ears (19%)
- eye (19%)
- trunk or other (11%)
- leg (10%)
- arm (5%)
Out of all the firework injuries, the NFPA reports that sparklers accounted for a quarter of the emergency room visits; one of the reasons why Nassau County recently banned the use of sparklers in their communities. Some of the most dangerous fireworks on the market consumers show be cautious of aside from sparklers are fountains, roman candles, homemade fireworks, mortars and bottle rockets.
The easiest way to avoid firework danger is not to buy them in the first place. However, if you are planning to use fireworks this holiday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises consumers to use these safety steps to reduce the number of firework-related accidents and injuries:
- Only use legal fireworks
- Never allow children to play with fireworks
- Light fireworks one at a time
- Never place a body part directly over a firework
- Don’t make your own fireworks or buy homemade fireworks
- Never shoot fireworks in metal in glass contains
- Never point or throw fireworks at anyone
Aside from the physical dangers of these products, Long Island residents caught illegally using fireworks can face criminal charges depending on the offense. Looking into the New York State and Long Island laws regarding firework use should be your first step before buying any products for your celebration this weekend.
Driving on Independence Day is not piece of cake. In fact, according to numerous studies, such as this one from ValuePenguin, July 4th ranks as the third deadliest driving holiday of the year, averaging around 307 fatal accidents. Keeping you and your family safe on the road this summer should be the number one priority when it comes to holiday travel, but it can be difficult with an increase of congestion, drinking and driving, aggressive road behaviors.
To reduce your chance of being involved in a serious or fatal accident, Nationwide suggests sticking to the basic safe driving tips whenever behind the wheel this weekend:
- Focus on driving: Keep 100% of your attention on the road. Don’t use your cell phone or other electronic devices and watch your speed.
- Drive defensively: Be aware of other drivers on the roads, especially those who appear to be driving aggressively or under the influence. If the weather is bad, anticipate slow break times and the possibility of hydroplaning in rainy weather.
- Plan ahead: For long trips, schedule stops ahead of time for meals and bathroom breaks. Check the weather and traffic reports before you leave so you are prepared for any accidents or traffic ahead of time.
- Practice safety: Safely secure cargo and luggage to your vehicle before you leave. Do not reach for fallen items when driving, try to multitask, or attempt to watch firework shows out the window on the highway!
Above all else, always stay sober if you are the driver. Your chances of getting into an accident with a drunk driver on and around July 4th is nearly 40% higher than on any other non-holiday. Making sure you are not adding to the number of drunk drivers on the roads can make a significant impact when it comes to saving someone’s life.
Deadly Swimming Conditions
There have been two suspected cases of ocean drowning this week on Long Island: one involving a 10-year-boy swimming with his brother by the rocks and another involving a 31-year-old man swimming with friends at night. Both incidents were on Long Beach and both involved swimming in risky areas or at times of the day when lifeguards were not on duty.
Pools, oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water all pose drowning risks if swimmers are not taking the proper precautions. The Long Island Drowning Prevention Task Force is dedicated to reducing the number of child drowning deaths this summer by offering these safety recommendations when in the water this weekend:
- Never leave a child alone by a body of water, even with a preserver or lifejacket
- Teach children early how to swim and educated them on basic safety instructions
- Use self-closing gates, self-latching gates, or gate alarms to prevent children sneaking into pools
- Always have emergency rescue equipment when planning to swim
- Designate a water watcher in your group
- Learn infant/child/adult CPR to help in the case of an emergency.
- Keep chairs, stools, and tables away from the pool so children do not climb
Other safety tips more specific for the ocean include only swimming during the day when lifeguards are on duty, watching for dangerous rip tides, avoiding rough waters, and to always swim with others- never alone.
In 2012, more than 16,000 patients ended up in the emergency room due to grilling injuries. Backyard grills are excellent when it comes to cooking, but not so helpful in keeping others safe. Unattended or malfunctioning grills can cause major injuries at a backyard barbecue, leaving your guests running for their lives instead of for your spread of food.
At least 70% of grill fires in the country occur during the months of May and September, with peak fire season hitting in July. The NFPA assures patrons that sticking to a few grilling safety methods will help keep all your guests safe this holiday, not to mention prevent your house and food from going up in flames:
- Keep your grill away from the side of your home and any railings.
- Open the lid before turning on your grill, followed by turning on the propane, turning the knobs and then pushing the ignition button (if you have one).
- If the grill does not ignite, wait 5 minutes for gas to dissipate before trying again.
- Turn off the propane tank before turning off the grill burners
- Always keep children away from the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
Keep LI Safe On July 4th!
The odds of sustaining an injury over the Fourth of July are overwhelmingly high, but this doesn’t have to prevent you from enjoying your holiday weekend. Plan ahead, come prepared for safety, and don’t engage in risky behaviors that are known to lead to serious and fatal accidents. The more Long Islanders that focus on safety this holiday, the safer our communities will be for celebrating Independence Day.
If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury due to the negligence of another, our experienced attorneys are ready to fight for your case. Siler & Ingber is a leader in personal injury litigation, seeking justice for our clients in a time of suffering and need. Call us toll free at 877-529-4343 for a free consultation to review your options and see what compensation you may be eligible to collect for your injuries.