The Fourth of July holiday is a time for millions of people to come together to celebrate the nation, but some holiday traditions can make for a dangerous combination. Mishaps involving fireworks, grilling and alcohol use lead to a significant rise in hospitalizations and ER visits.
Accidents involving fireworks are the most common cause of injuries during the holiday. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports about 15,600 people were hospitalized with fireworks-related injuries in 2020.
"We always see an increase in injuries this time of year,” says Dr. Barry Knapp, Professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine, the Chidester Endowed Chair of Emergency Medicine. “Please use caution and leave the fireworks for the professionals."
If you do plan to use fireworks on your own, CPSC recommends to light them one at a time and never place any part of your body directly over the fireworks. After igniting, they say you should quickly move away from the device. They also advise parents keep young children away from fireworks, including sparklers, as they can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Many people rush to fire up the grill and barbeque during the holiday. Due to this, the potential for grill fires becomes a big hazard. When operating a grill, CPSC recommends placing it away from your home or any sort of outdoor equipment and ensure it is positioned correctly. According to the U.S. Army, “hospital emergency rooms treat nearly 20,000 patients every year for grill-related injuries.” During this peak grilling season, they recommend being aware of how to mitigate fires when they occur, and keeping a fire extinguisher present.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 38% of all motor vehicle deaths during the 2019 July 4th holiday were alcohol related.
If you plan to drink, NHTSA officials recommend making a plan ahead of time to find a safe way home. If you are hosting a celebration, they advise asking each guest to name a designated driver, and making sure those guests have alcohol-free options.