What’s not to love about Independence Day: cookouts, fireworks, parades, family and friends. Fun and games aside, without the proper precautions, these new experiences and unfamiliar environments can pose safety risks to young children.
Here are a few tips to ensure your Fourth of July celebrations are fun — and safe — for the little ones.
The safest bet, according to the AAP, is for families to attend community fireworks displays run by professionals. For those planning on setting off fireworks at home, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following safety guidelines:
• Don’t allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. (Even sparklers come with risks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sparklers can burn at more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and account for 10 percent of fireworks-related injuries.)
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks.
• Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper. This typically means they were made for professional displays and could be dangerous for consumers.
• Make sure everyone watches fireworks displays from a safe distance.
• Call 911 immediately if someone is injured from fireworks.
It’s important to keep in mind, too, that while many kids love fireworks displays, some babies and younger children may become scared or upset by the loud booms. (It’s not particularly great for their hearing, either, depending on how close you are to the fireworks.) So be prepared for the possibility of changing plans if the whole “first fireworks experience” ends up being a dud.
Community fireworks displays and festivals tend to draw crowds, making it easy for a small child to slip away from caregivers. We all hope it never happens to us. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Here are some measures to consider:
• Have your child memorize your phone number in case she gets lost. For younger children, consider writing your name and phone number on their hand and then coating it with a liquid bandage so the ink doesn’t smear.
• Take a photo of your child in the morning so you have an up-to-date image of him in case he gets separated. You’ll easily be able to give a description of his clothing and hair this way, too.
• Talk to your children about what they should do if they get lost. How do they identify workers/helpers? Where should you plan on meeting up?
• They may be controversial, but backpack harnesses for spirited toddlers can provide an added layer of safety in large crowds.
Unfortunately, instances of food poisoning peak during the summer months because of the warmer temperatures that allow food-borne illnesses to thrive. So it’s always a good idea to brush up on food and grilling safety if you’re planning on having guests over for a cookout. Here are some pointers from the CDC:
• Separate: While out shopping, grab meat, poultry and seafood last and be sure to separate them from other food in your cart to avoid cross-contamination.
• Keep it chilled: Make sure to keep meat refrigerated until it’s time for cooking. When transporting, keep the temperature below 40 degrees in an insulated cooler.
• Clean: Wash your hands before and after handing raw meat. Don’t forget to do the same with surfaces, utensils, and the grill.
• Cooking: Use a food thermometer to ensure you’re cooking meat hot enough to kill harmful germs. (See this chart for details.)
Last but not least, make sure children know that playing near the grill itself is strictly off-limits. Keep those little fingers safe!
Images by iStock
This post was originally published in July, 2017.