Star Spangled Safety Tips

Stay safe this 4th of July

by Gina Roberts-Grey

Just mentioning the Fourth of July produces a currant of electrical excitement among children of all ages.  The thrill of hometown parades, block party bar-b-ques and spectacular fireworks displays captivate children who are anxious to celebrate our nation’s birthday.  Whether your child is looking forward to endless hours of feasting at patriotically decorated picnics, or counting the seconds in between each burst of brilliance in the sky, you can be certain he’s probably not consumed with maintaining his safety. 

     Knowing where to find, and how to avoid, some common potential accidents and injuries during the 4th of July will give you peace of mind, and your children the ability to enjoy the festivities.  Your proactive 4th of July attitude will help everyone have a patriotic day to remember!


Sparklers, poppers and firecrackers are extremely appealing to children.  Toddlers are drawn straight toward sparklers, fountains and other incendiary items that many states allow private individuals to use.  Adolescents, tweens and teens often find the opportunity to ignite bottle rockets and firecrackers a sign of their burgeoning maturity.  Dr. Jonathon Kaufman, M.D. of Sleepy Hollow, Illinois reminds parents that “all types of pyrotechnic devices, matches and igniters can cause serious injury and are not appropriate for anyone under the legal age to use.”  Statistics gathered by The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control echo his concern.  The NCIPC collected data that indicated in 2003 approximately 45% of the people injured by fireworks were children ages 14 and younger. 

     It can be tempting to inch close to an ignited firework or to examine how professionals explode large fireworks.  The National Counsel on Fireworks Safety urges all spectators to allow trained fireworks operators enough room to safely do their job. Additionally the Counsel cautions that although it rarely happens, it is possible for a firework component to fall to the ground without exploding.  Make sure your children are cautioned not to touch these unexploded fireworks, and if they happen to find any which have not exploded, they should immediately contact the local fire or police department.


Impatient tummies tend to encourage young children to approach food cooking on a bar-b-que or over an open flame.  Instruct your children that although it may no longer glow red, charcoal or the sides of a bar-b-que remain dangerously hot for several hours after a fire has been extinguished. 

     Providing supervision for young children who are near a bar-b-que may seem obvious, but according to the NCIPC, more than 4500 children required medical treatment last year as a result of injuries resulting from bar-b-ques and fire pits. 

Swimming pools

It never hurts to constantly review water safety procedures with your children.  Making sure that children of all ages are supervised in the presence of any standing water, wear proper flotation devices if necessary, and do not attempt to dive or jump into shallow pools will help your star spangled celebration be safe and exciting.  Because a child can be injured or drown in less only one inch of water, maintaining constant adult supervision whenever there is the combination of children and water will also increase the chances of everyone celebrating a safe and fun 4th.

     Red is a vibrant color often associated with the 4th of July.  Seen on flags, in streamers and on picnic tablecloths, red is a terrific color to incorporate in your holiday celebration – as long as it’s not the color of your family’s sunburned skin.  Whether swimming or perspiring, generously applying and reapplying waterproof sunscreen according to the directions on the container decreases the possibility that your family will be uncomfortable or experience damaging sun over exposure. 

Parades and crowds

     Marching in parades is popular with sports teams, scout packs and church organizations.  Because her son once developed dehydration while marching in a parade, Allison Besemer of Baldwinsville, New York never attends or participates in a parade without toting plenty of hydrating beverages and light snacks.  “Kids never want to slow down or admit they’re not feeling well.  As a result, it’s hard to know how hot and exhausted a child actually is until they’re ready to collapse,” explains the mom of two.  “Now, I make sure we’re always properly hydrated and ready to have a great day,” Besemer adds.  Beverly Henry, Ph.D., and Registered Dietician agrees with Besemer’s proactive preparation.  “Drinking adequate water, combined with some carbohydrates can help you maintain mental and physical energy,” she adds. 

     Attending parades also presents a unique set of concerns to children.  Running to catch candy tossed from people riding a float can be confusing for a child who’s been taught to not accept candy or food from strangers.  Candy tossed by parade participants should not be eaten until it is inspected by a parent or trusted adult to maintain continuity with your precautions.  Reiterate your guidelines and the difference between accepting candy from a stranger when you are not present as opposed to retrieving candy with you during a parade, to eliminate some of your child’s confusion.

Bicycles, boats and wagons

     Taping streamers, balloons and flags to a bicycle stirs feelings of pride for children as they show off their patriotism.  Inspect your child’s bicycle or scooter to make certain any embellishments will not impair his vision, ability to been seen and stop safely, or impede the normal working mechanisms of the equipment. 

     Amidst the excitement of riding in a parade or down the street to demonstrate their patriotic enthusiasm, children find it difficult to remember safety and protective equipment.  Dr. Kaufman also cautions that reminding children to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, and proper protective gear when skateboarding, roller balding or riding a scooter is essential.  “Because wagons can tip if the weight is not evenly proportioned, it is also important to stress remaining seated at all times when a child is in a wagon,” he adds.

Gina Roberts-Grey is a freelance writer who often writes on the subjects of families and children.