Another year, another Fourth of July, which most of us will celebrate happily and proudly with friends and family. While the majority will enjoy the day accident-free, a few unlucky souls and more than a few thoughtless pranksters will find their holiday shadowed by pain when their attempts at celebration go wrong. The three most common areas of concern and occasional tragedy are fireworks, backyard pools, and outdoor grills.

Fireworks: Are they really that exciting? They’re pretty and sometimes fun, especially sparklers in the hands of excited children, and though I admittedly may be speaking for an entire gender here, is a short fuse followed by a loud explosion truly a must on the life-experiences list? Yeah, I know, it goes BANG. Anyway, the long and short of it is (hahaha), fireworks, even the backyard variety can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Most especially, we’re talking Roman candles, rockets, fountains, M-80s, and aerial repeaters. Most of these shouldn’t be handled by children and the last, which is series of rockets bundled together with a synchronized fuse, should be specially reserved for adults.

Before anyone uses fireworks, remember a few key safety rules from the National Council on Fireworks Safety (yes, such an organization exists):

  • NEVER carry fireworks in your POCKET.
  • Always use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area, AWAY from buildings and vehicles.
  • Always have WATER ready when lighting fireworks.
  • Never relight a “DUD” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Drinking ALCOHOL and fireworks do not mix.

For your amusement, here’s a YouTube video (Humdingervideos) and then onto pools.

Lots of July Fourth accidents occur in or near pools, and the root cause of many of these are drunk adults not supervising the children. Kids, even those who know how to swim, must be watched at all times when near or in a pool. In most groups, there’s usually no problem; some of the adults naturally gather together at the pool’s edge, talking as they follow the action in the water, and when someone needs to get food, it’s customary to say, “Will you watch Johnny for me until I get back?” Universally, this is how it’s done, so do it.

For adults, most swimming accidents on Fourth of July happen due to drinking and not knowing how to swim. If you’re at the beach, it’s best if you don’t go in alone and if you do, swim near a lifeguard and never swim out farther than you can return. Did I say drinking? Stay away from the backyard pool if you’re drunk.

Again, for your amusement, a video, courtesy of FailsBox (warning: occasional PG language), from YouTube:

Finally, the joy of grilling can easily turn into the pain of burning. BBQ chicken is wonderful, striped hotdogs divine, and there’s nothing quite like a slow-grilled cheeseburger, but grilled meat spells accident when mishandled. Numero uno, only use a grill if you understand how to operate it, and numero dos, never place the grill near anything that may catch fire. This YouTube video from Dr. David Harrington of the Rhode Island Burn Center at Rhode Island Hospital, explains why:

Happy Birthday, America!