Fourth of July Kicks Off Summer Safety Risks
While most Long Islanders will be celebrating Independence Day on a smaller scale this year, the need to plan for safety has never been greater. The Fourth of July remains one of the most hazardous and deadly holidays of the year. Between an uptick in reckless driving and dangerous recreational activities, carelessness in the summer season often results in disaster.
Understanding what causes Independence Day accidents is the first step to keeping your family safe and healthy this summer. Regardless of how far you are traveling or the size of your gathering, there are always ways to prepare for a safer holiday weekend.
Fourth of the July fireworks shows are longstanding traditions that carry the risk of horrific consequences when things go wrong. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (C.P.S.C.), fireworks were responsible for at least 10,000 injuries in 2019. The most common accidents involved damage to the head, face, ears, eyes, and hands. Injuries ranged in severity from mild to fatal in the form of cuts and bumps, burns, abrasions, amputations, and instances of internal bleeding from forceful impacts.
Despite the fact that home fireworks are illegal on Long Island and in New York City, officials have seen a rapid uptick of reported fireworks displays in neighborhoods throughout both Suffolk and Nassau County. At-home fireworks set off in unsafe locations can pose a serious risk to public safety. Just last week, a 3-year-old in NYC was badly burned by an illegal firework that came shooting through his bedroom window from the street below.
All Long Islanders are encouraged to refrain from at-home fireworks to keep their community safe. Although most city and town fireworks shows have been canceled this year to limit large gatherings, there are still a few events, such as the Southampton Fresh Air Home Fund’s display, that can be seen from miles around, and are far safer than a backyard show.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of fatalities for children, and a tragedy that even the best swimmers are not immune. It only takes about 60 seconds and 2 inches of water for someone to drown, according to Kids Health, and anyone of any age can become a victim.
Pools, lakes, and beaches all have unique dangers that can increase a swimmer’s risk of drowning. Knowing the dangers of each body of water you swim in can help to reduce your risk and keep everyone in the water safe this season.
Backyard and public pools are a convenience that can prove to be deadly when safety precautions are ignored. Between 1999 to 2017, Newsday reported a total of nearly 90 drowning deaths in pools on Long Island: 24 in Nassau County and 65 in Suffolk County. Children ages 1 to 4 had the highest rates of drowning, followed by children ages 11 to 14, and adults ages 49 to 55.
Parents of toddlers and small kids should always supervise their children in the pool, never leaving them alone in the water for any period of time. Swim lessons can greatly reduce a child’s chance of drowning if they find themselves falling in. However, supervision ultimately saves the most lives when it comes to accidents that catch kids off-guard.
Additional safety steps all swimmers should take when in the pool this summer include:
- Installing sturdy gates to keep children out of the pool area when unsupervised;
- Encouraging no running around the pool to prevent falls;
- Keeping pool floats to a minimum to reduce the risk of children becoming caught underneath;
- Never swim while consuming alcohol;
- Never swim alone, especially at night; and
- Try to limit the number of people in the pool to avoid losing track of small children.
Lakes and Oceans
Drowning accidents on lakes and oceans occur for entirely different reasons compared to pools. Natural bodies of water are highly susceptible to weather that can change swimming conditions in the blink of an eye. Last year alone, The New York Times reported that 7 young adults drowned in separate instances within an 11-mile strip of New York City beaches after being pulled into the water unexpectedly by currents and waves.
Swimmers who choose lakes and oceans must also watch out for vessels that can cause their harm, such as speed boats, jet skis, and tubes. Drowning accidents can also occur when people are not planning to swim but become knocked into the water due to rough conditions or collisions with other vessels.
Swimming aids and life jackets, especially when used on a boat, are not just for kids. According to the 2016 Recreational Boating Statistic report published by U.S. Coast Guard, at least 83 percent of people who fatally drowned were not wearing life jackets. Life jackets are essential to saving lives when it comes to falling off a boat, getting caught in a riptide, or losing consciousness due to fatigue or injury.
Other safety tips for swimming in lakes and oceans include:
- Always remain in designated areas;
- Do not swim alone or in deep water without supervision (even as adults); and
- Check the weather for riptide activity or inclement weather that can make conditions too rough to swim.
Summer holidays are known for increased instances of reckless driving. But compared to all other holidays, Independence Day is the deadliest.
According to the National Safety Council (N.S.C.), more fatal traffic accidents occur on Independence Day than any other time of the year. Studies have found that in addition to an increase in fatigued, drunk, distracted, and aggressive drivers, the presence of more cars on the road ups the risk of traffic accidents by at least 6.5 percent.
Staying local may reduce your risk for traffic accidents, but it certainly will not eliminate it. Drivers can decrease their chances of getting into an accident by adhering to general safe driving methods, including:
- Always drive sober;
- Never drive while operating cellphones or electronics;
- Reduce the level of noise inside of the vehicle (turn down the volume, limit conversations with passengers);
- Drive only when feeling awake and alert;
- Keep both hands on the wheels; and
- Refrain from aggressive maneuvers (speeding, quick lane changes, turning without a signal).
Celebrating at home is the safest bet for reducing vehicle accidents this Independence Day. However, if you do find yourself out on the road, remain extra alert to the drivers and vehicles around you. If you have teenage drivers in the home, educate them on the holiday road dangers before you allow them the freedom to cruise around.
House fires in the summer are more frequent than you might think, especially during holiday weekends full of hazards known for starting them. According to The National Fire Incident Reporting Systems, grills, unattended stoves, and fireworks are the most common causes of residential fires in the summer. Hot temperatures and dry spells between rain can also increase the risk of fires, allowing the perfect conditions for flames to spread quickly.
Reduce your risk of house fires this summer by never leaving any stove or grill unattended. Never light fireworks near your home and attend professional displays when possible. In areas of your home where fires are most likely to occur, install easily accessible fire extinguishers to tame uncontrollable flames.
Summer recreation is at an all-time high this summer as Long Island families try to keep busy while staying safe at home. But before you purchase an abundance of summer toys, know the common risks that could send your child to the emergency room:
Trampolines may seem like the perfect way to let your kids burn off some energy, but the risks of these jumping toys are not worth the reward. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 1 million Americans are seen in the E.R. for trampoline-related injuries every year. The majority of patients are children under the age of 16, sustaining injuries, including broken bones, spinal fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and serious sprains.
Avoiding these apparatuses at all costs is the safest bet. But if you already have one, make sure your children are jumping safely. Allow one person at a time to jump, remove any objects on the tramp, keep the surface dry, and always have a net to prevent kids from bouncing off.
Ride On Toys
Bikes, scooters, and other riding toys are great sources of exercise for children when ridden safely and with protection. According to a study published in Oxford Academic, wearing a helmet can reduce fatal head injuries on a bicycle by up to 65 percent, and serious head injuries by nearly 70 percent.
Other types of padding worn on the elbows, knees, and shoulders (depending on the equipment) can also be extremely effective in preventing impact injuries such as broken bones. Promote a safe riding culture in your home when it comes to wearing safety gear and make it a rule to wear a helmet at all times when scooting or riding around.
Our team at Siler & Ingber wishes all Long Islanders a safe and happy Independence Day. Whatever you choose to do, be smart, and plan ahead to help avoid preventable accidents. Happy Fourth of July!
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