Independence Day is one of the most thrilling summer holidays. Between fireworks, barbecues, and pool parties, most Long Islanders will have their upcoming weekends packed with exciting events.
Safety will be especially important to remember during this Fourth of July, no matter how you chose to celebrate. Sadly, seven people were killed on Long Island in less than 48 hours last Independence Day. The accidents included:
- A 25-year-old man who died after crashing his motorcycle into a guardrail on the Long Island Expressway;
- A 49-year-old man who died after crashing his motorcycle into a barricade on Veterans Memorial Highway;
- A 17-year-old who was killed when refusing to join a gang;
- The driver of a Jeep who was killed in a vehicle accident in Ronkonkoma when his car caught fire after crashing into multiple road hazards;
- A 47-year-old man who was killed when he struck a guardrail on the William Floyd Parkway;
- A 41-year-old man who drowned at a Mattituck beach when trying to save his child; and
- A 16-year-old died in New Cassel who died after suffering serious unknown injuries.
Any Long Islander planning a getaway or even a small celebration at home should prepare for accidents this holiday. By familiarizing yourself with the most common Fourth of July injuries, you can decrease your family’s chance of injuries this weekend and focus on having a good time.
Deadly Roadtrip Hazards
Four of the seven Fourth of July deaths on Long Island in 2018 were the result of vehicle accidents. The AAA recently stated that 2-million more motorists could be on the roads this holiday weekend, putting the total of possible travelers up to 48.9 million and counting.
Summer holidays increase the number of distracted, drunk, fatigued, and aggressive drivers on the road in addition to traffic congestion. With New York City ranking as one of the top tourist destinations this Independence Day, New York motorists are at an increased risk on the road. According to Finder, New York was the ninth deadliest state for traffic accidents between 2008 to 2017, with a total of 56 fatalities.
How To Stay Safe
Start your holiday trip off right by avoiding the most congested times on the road. The AAA predicts July 3 will be the worst day to leave this year for New Yorkers, specifically between the times of 1:45 to 3:45 p.m. when delays are expected to be 3.8 times longer than usual.
Before you leave, ensure your car is in working condition. AAA rescues over 367,000 stranded motorists every Independence Day weekend. Cars and pedestrians on the side of the road can easily be hit by drivers who are not paying attention. Reduce your chances of a breakdown by taking your vehicle to a repair shop for any outstanding maintenance before your road trip.
Motorcycle riders must use extra caution on the road this holiday. Keeping speeds low, staying vigilante, and avoiding rides in inclement weather are the first steps to reducing accidents. Never assume a car sees you coming or is paying attention. Using defensive driving methods is extremely important to protect riders when roads are busy and drivers are in a hurry.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children in the summer. Newsday reports Long Island saw nearly 90 drowning deaths between 1999 to 2017. Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest rate of drowning across the country, but they are not the only ones in danger. One of the seven Long Island Independence Day fatalities in 2018 was a father trying to save his child from drowning. Other incidents of adults and older children drowning from sports injuries, rip tides, and boating accidents have also been reported over the years.
How To Stay Safe
Parents should always supervise young children in the water. Using swimming aids can help reduce the risk of drowning for children who cannot swim. However, swimming lessons are the most effective in the long run. If you have a pool, make sure to install a sturdy gate to keep unsupervised children away from the water. When swimming in the ocean, take note of the waves, rip-tides, and crowds before taking a dip.
Freak Firework Accidents
It wouldn’t be a Fourth of July celebration without fireworks. But these exciting explosives can lead to serious harm when missed. The National Fire Protection Association (N.F.P.A.) reports fireworks are responsible for an average of 18,500 fires and 10,500 injuries every year. Hand injuries accounted for over 36 percent of accidents, followed by head, face, and ears injuries (19 percent), eye injuries (19 percent), trunk injuries (11 percent), leg injuries (10 percent), and arm injuries (9 percent). While some people can get away with minor burns from sparkler flares, other individuals sustain traumatic injuries from firework accidents that can be permanently disabling, such as amputations, first and second-degree burns, bone fractures, and vision/hearing loss.
How To Stay Safe
The safest way to enjoy fireworks this holiday is to see a public show and leave the dangerous tasks to the professionals. There are several shows on Long Island your family can attend this year with spectacular displays. Click here to see a list of shows in your area.
If you do want to take a chance with home fireworks this weekend, avoid products such as sparklers, firecrackers, reloadable shells, roman candles and illegal fireworks known for causing injuries. Always keep children far away from fireworks and never relight a firework that did not go off on the first try. To avoid house fires, keep all fireworks a safe distance from any homes and roofs.
Most New Yorkers are planning outdoor activities for the upcoming holiday. With temperatures predicted to remain high, Independence Day celebrators could be spending a lot of time in the heat. Prolonged exposure to the sun and heat without any way for the body to cool down is extremely dangerous. According to Mayo Clinic, heat illnesses such as heat stroke occur when your body temperature rises to 104 F or higher. Heat stroke is life-threatening when left untreated and can occur quickly under the right conditions- sometimes in only 15 minutes!
How To Stay Safe
When out in the heat this holiday, take plenty of breaks. Make sure you are hydrating frequently with water or sports drinks to help maintain your body temperature. Know the signs of heat stroke and keep a close eye on family and friends, especially children and elderly individuals, to quickly identify any concerning symptoms before they cause harm. Never leave children or any other individual in a hot car without air conditioning and supervision. Heat indexes in vehicles rise quickly and can be deadly.
Alcohol consumption skyrockets over the Fourth of July weekend, causing all sorts of unnecessary trouble. When adding alcohol to any summer activity, the chance of severe injuries significantly increases.
According to Value Penguin, Independence Day weekend in New York is the deadliest holiday in the state for drunk drivers, with an average of 42 D.U.I. fatalities a day. Research shows drivers are 57 percent more likely to be killed by a drunk driver on this holiday than Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Years, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Alcohol can also lead to catastrophic injuries and losses off of the road. Grilling, operating fireworks, swimming, boating or supervising children are all activities where individuals must be 100 percent focused on what they are doing. When individuals drink while participating in these activities, they lose their ability to react quickly in an emergency or to recognize obvious hazards that could reduce accidents in the first place.
How To Stay Safe
The best way to avoid alcohol-related injuries and fatalities this summer is to avoid alcohol altogether. Staying sober over the Fourth of July can greatly decrease your chances of injuries and leave you ready to help in the case of an accident. If you do want to drink, don’t take on any responsibility that requires you to be sober. Never drink before operating motor vehicles or boats and speak up when you feel you are too impaired to supervise children. Stay in control by drinking plenty of water between drinks and limiting your alcoholic beverages to just a few.
Have A Fun and Safe Independence Day!
Don’t sacrifice your safety for a good time this holiday. Stay alert, plan ahead, and avoid the common dangers known for turning an exciting Fourth of July into a disaster.