Independence Day is a fun, festive holiday for everyone. It’s a time to be spent with family, thankful for the freedoms our ancestors fought for many years ago and that we can enjoy today. Just because it is a free country, though, does not mean we have the freedom to make unsafe, poor decisions that will impact those around us (and have the potential to ruin some pretty fun parties and parades). To avoid putting a damper on any celebrations you attend, here are some great 4th of July safety tips for you and your family so you can be the life of the party.
- Check the weather before you head out the door and dress accordingly. If it’s going to be hot and sunny, bring sunscreen and wear light, loose clothing. If it’s going to thunderstorm, avoid flat areas and large bodies of water and bring along a rain jacket.
- Don’t go outside if there are any warnings or dangerous weather is forecasted, such as storms or extreme heat.
There are going to be tons of people trying to get to their destination all weekend, so the roads will be busy.
- Never drink and drive. If you’ve had any alcohol at all, do so responsibly and hand the keys over to someone else or make a plan to stay where you are for the night. If you’re the Designated Driver, keep your word and do not partake in any alcohol in order to keep your friends and family safe.
- Plan extra time to get where you’re going. Traffic will likely be hectic, so give yourself some extra time to get wherever you want to go. Make a plan ahead of time and avoid driving aggressively. For more tips on how to avoid road rage, check out this blog.
Grill and food safety
Burgers and dogs and some lemonade or beer are the summer staples. Cooking for lots of people and providing refreshments for a party can be stressful, but if you follow these safety tips, it’ll be a breeze.
- Always grill outside, never in a garage, porch or enclosed space, even if it is ventilated.
- Avoid cooking under porches, awnings and other structures to prevent fires and always grill on a flat surface, at least 10 feet away from your house, garage or other structures.
- Check the gas tank for leaks and make it a habit to check the hose before using it for the first time every year.
- Never leave your grill unattended – fires can double in size every minute.
- Assign a responsible and sober adult with grilling experience to man the grill and another to keep children and pets away from it. Be sure to inform the kids that the grill is the same as a hot stove inside.
- Use long-handled tools that are especially made for outdoor grilling.
- Clean your grill before the party to remove grease or fat buildup.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Make sure to keep raw meat refrigerated until it’s ready to be cooked. Always cook all cuts of pork, ground beef and lamb to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. All poultry, hot dogs and leftover meat should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Never use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and always wash your hands before and after handling it.
- Keep ice for beverages in a cooler out of direct sunlight or a freezer if available. Be sure to store drinks on ice as well.
- Keep food covered when not being served to keep away bugs.
Water and boat safety
There’s nothing like a refreshing dip in the pool or hop through the waves on a hot July day, or spending some time with family and friends by the lake or on the boat, but safety on the water should always be on everyone’s mind. Share these safety tips with your children before heading out onto the water.
A good general rule to follow is to make sure that all children have brightly colored and easy-to-spot swimsuits so you can see them from a distance, even when they’re in the water. Do not let children who are not strong swimmers in the water on their own, and all children, regardless of skill level, should be supervised by a sober, alert adult. Never swim while intoxicated.
- Make sure all guests know the rules of the pool – such as “no running” and “no roughhousing” – and post them in a highly visible location. Never leave children or guests alone, as they may need help in the event of an emergency.
- Reapply sunscreen often, especially after getting wet.
- Don’t swim for at least 30 minutes if you hear thunder or see lightning.
- Never put your fingers in grates or filters and make sure to tell children the same.
- Keep pets and children who are unable to swim away from the pool area.
- If possible, assign the role of “lifeguard” to a sober, responsible adult for all swimmers. Even if they are not a trained lifeguard, having someone on constant alert while people are in the pool is a good safety rule.
Beach and water parks
- Set up a designated spot for your group that’s visible from a distance. If the beach is crowded, find landmarks that everyone can easily find that are near your spot.
- Always listen to the lifeguards and follow the rules mandated by the beach or park. They should be posted for all visitors to see.
- Never swim alone, regardless of your level of skill or age – always have a partner or group swim together.
- Be conscious of riptides. If you get caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of it.
- Be aware of weather conditions and head warnings.
- It’s easy to get dehydrated if you’re spending the whole day on the beach – be sure to use sunscreen and reapply often and to drink plenty of fluids (avoiding alcohol.)
Check out this blog for our Summer Boating Safety tips!
Fires and fireworks
Some of the most enjoyable parts of the 4th of July are the fireworks displays put on for everyone to see, but these are done by professionals with permits and safety training. FBinsure reminds everyone that any and all fireworks are illegal to buy, transport or possess in the state of Massachusetts. This includes small consumer, non-aerial fireworks and novelty sparklers. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. There are many local municipal displays available for families to enjoy.
Bonfires and campfires are also a fun way to cap off the evening, perhaps making s’mores with the little ones, but this also require safety considerations.
- Make sure your fire is in a clear area and there are no overhanging branches, awnings or porches above the fire.
- Surround the firepit with rocks if possible and always keep a large bucket of water nearby.
- If you’re making s’mores with children, be sure to watch them carefully, and never let them get too close to the flames.
- Never leave a fire unattended and ensure it is completely extinguished before the end of the night.
Holidays are a great opportunity to take your pets to fun places they’ve never been before and to enjoy time with them as a member of the family, but the 4th of July can be nerve-wracking for some pets. Here are some ways to keep them safe and make sure they’re not stressed.
- Fireworks and explosions are loud and unsettling for pets. If your pet is anxious around loud noises, keep them secured in a quiet room with some of their favorite items during the displays. Consider playing gentle music or getting them an anti-anxiety garment, such as a Thundershirt.
- If your pet is anxious around guests and you plan on having a celebration, it may be a good idea to talk to your vet about products and medications that may help them.
- Make sure to keep the guest’s food and drink away from pets at all times – lots of human food and alcohol are poisonous to animals.
- If your pet requires exercise, take them for a long walk or out to play early in the day to get out any excess energy they may have.
- If your pet is joining you outside for the festivities, make sure they have access to shade and plenty of water to help them keep cool.
- Consider microchipping your pet if you haven’t already or have them wear a tracking collar.
- More pets get lost on Independence Day than any other day of the year. Have a current photo of your pet on hand just in case.
- Never leave your pet alone in a car, especially for extended periods of time and especially while watching fireworks displays, as they can become panicked.
- Consider a pet sitter if you will be gone for an extended period of time if you cannot bring your pet with you.
We at FBinsure hope you have a fun, safe and spectacular 4th of July! For more insurance solutions, visit or call your local FBinsure office today. Be sure to follow our social media pages for updates when blogs like this one are posted.