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Simple steps to stay safe on the Fourth

July 2, 2012
The Daily News

The Independence Day Holiday is almost here and many people will visit the beach, enjoy fireworks, or fire up the grill for a backyard barbecue.

"The American Red Cross wants everyone to have a happy - and safe - Fourth of July holiday, and taking a few simple steps to stay safe can help ensure that this will be an enjoyable holiday for all," said Steve Hansen, Northeast Wisconsin Chapter executive.


If swimming is part of someone's holiday plans, they should check the weather and swim only at a lifeguard-protected pool or beach within the designated swimming area and obey all safety rules. Avoid alcohol before and during any water activities and make sure to never swim alone.

Other tips to keep in mind:

Actively supervise children at all times - even if a lifeguard is present. Stay within arm's reach of young children when they are in the water. Have weak swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Don't rely on water wings or inflatable toys. Always enter shallow water feet first. Dive only in areas marked safe for diving.


Everyone should limit the amount of direct sunlight they receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15 throughout the day. Wear sunglasses that will absorb UV sunlight to protect one's eyes. And remember to protect one's feet by wearing some kind of beach shoes.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Wear loose-fitting clothing, lightweight and light colored. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun's rays. Take frequent work if you must work outdoors. Do no leave any people or pets in vehicles.

Be a great neighbor by checking on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat, especially the elderly.


Nothing says "Fourth of July" like fireworks. To help stay safe while enjoying them, follow these safety steps:

Never give fireworks to small children and always follow the instructions on the packaging. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud." Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

Never throw or point fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.


If a picnic and grilled goodies are part of someone's holiday plans, they should follow these steps:

Always watch the barbecue grill when in use. Never grill indoors - not in a house, camper, tent or any enclosed area. Make sure children and pets stay away from the grill. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.

Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using grills.

The Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of The American Red Cross serves 20 counties in northeast Wisconsin and Michigan border communities. Find out more at



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