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The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. July 4th is the day that we remember not only the founding of the country but also the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that makes the place we live so special. Personally, I enjoy the time outside, I love the parades, and I love swimming with my kids. Amidst the fun, it is important to follow some simple steps to ensure lots of smiles and a safe and happy holiday.
Holidays come with special meal days that include many indulgences - hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, and ice cream – lots of ice cream. Absolutely give the kids ice cream and cake, but do it in small amounts throughout the day to keep everyone happy. And to keep everyone healthy, make sure everyone remains hydrated throughout the day with water, milk, and water-diluted sports drinks. Hydration is critical to prevent a heat injury.
Next to remaining hydrated, the next challenge is protecting against the sun. The best protection is lots of quality sunscreen applied regularly, swim shirts, swim suits, and light protective clothing. Sun hats or “bucket” hats are great for small kids. The entire purpose of these protections is to get kids of all ages outside and outside for a long time without leaving the park with painful burns.
Fireworks are synonymous with the 4th of July. While a must for the holiday, adult supervision is critical for lighting fireworks. Also, fireworks bring a great danger for forest fires, starting roof fires, and the like. Follow the state and neighborhood regulations combined with good judgement and you cannot go wrong. Little kids love fireworks and I always make a special little kid seating area where they can see, sit with their friends, and not be too close. Finally, some combat veterans can be troubled by fireworks. If you have any combat veterans in your family take a quiet time before the 4th to ask them if the fireworks will bother them and, if yes, create a space inside for them to watch sports or do other activities to reduce the stress from firework explosions.
Boating, the beach, and the swimming pool are other great 4th of July traditions. Water can be dangerous if you do not respect it. Life jackets for all but the strongest swimmers, lots of water to stay hydrated, and adult supervision for those in the water will help make it a great day. On the 4th, there will be all skill levels of boat operators on the water. The best course on the water is to be safe, cautious, and defensive to help ensure no accidents.
It is important to wear seat belts, have a designated driver, and make sure you don’t drive tired at any time, but it is especially critical on the 4th , when there may be lots of people on the road. If you host a party, it is good to have a place ready in case people need to stay overnight, a plan for designated drivers, or a car service to bring people safely home.
Kids of all ages, from 4 to 40, need to still be supervised, checked in on, and looked after. Rotating this responsibility among adults to watch kids in the pool, on the playground, running around the neighborhood, and the like helps ensure the children stay safe. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children under five, and so if there is not an adult who can maintain a constant watch on children swimming, hire a lifeguard.
This is not meant as a military safety brief. From 20+ years in the military, I have told, and been told, not to be eaten by Alligators (Fort Stewart, GA), to make sure I pay my tab (South Korea), and to not drive too close to the side of the road because of washed down mines (Bosnia). Holiday safety is vital and planning in advance will allow you to focus on the fun this holiday.
Have a great 4th of July, Be Safe, and enjoy the Day!
Share Your Advice – What is your safety tip for celebrating the 4th of July?
About the Author: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 400 articles in over 200 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics. Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better. Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad on LinkedIn
Post originally published July 2019 and updated July 2022.
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