Be safe as you celebrate July 4th
“Every year, safety is our first priority as families begin to plan their Fourth of July festivities. While fireworks are the most iconic and festive way to celebrate our country’s independence, there can be dangers if fireworks are used improperly,” said Nancy Blogin, president of the National Council on Fireworks Safety. “Consumers should purchase fireworks from a reputable company or fireworks stand, check local and state laws for fireworks use in your city, and check all instructions on fireworks packaging before use.”
The fireworks industry has made great progress in improving firework quality and reducing injuries; however, there is still work to be done as the vast majority of fireworks-related injuries in the U.S. each year result from the misuse of fireworks.
There has been an increase in injuries among youth that have used fireworks in videos unsafely to impress their friends or to get a laugh. Parents are urged to help put a stop to using fireworks in viral videos by encouraging safety and by explaining that the improper use of fireworks can produce serious injuries or even death.
“We have a collective responsibility as a community to put a stop to improper fireworks usage. If you see something that is unsafe, say something or report it to your local fire or police department,” said Blogin.
The NCFS’s mission is to educate the public on the safe use of fireworks and encourage consumers to follow the following safety tips before engaging in fireworks celebrations this Fourth of July:
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
- A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Do not hold a fireworks item in your hand.
- Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water before discarding.
- After purchasing fireworks, always store them in a cool, dry place.
- When using fireworks always have a connected hose, bucket of water or other water source nearby.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and placing them in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
- Ensure all pets and animals are away from fireworks noise.
- With the rise in stress-related disorders affecting American service men and women, pay special consideration to individuals who may be sensitive to loud noises in proximity to your fireworks show.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the safe and responsible enjoyment of consumer fireworks.
For more information, visit www.fireworkssafety.org.
Avoid deadly electric shock
Whether at home or on vacation, boating, fishing and swimming can be fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors. The Energy Education Council wants to help you keep this time a safe time and is sharing the message, “If you feel a shock, swim away from the dock,” to help keep people safe from a hidden hazard called electric shock drowning (ESD).
As Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council and its Safe Electricity program explains, “If an electric current is present in fresh water and someone swims into that energized water, the result can be electric shock drowning. If the electrical current is strong enough, the electric shock can cause muscle paralysis, which leaves the affected individual unable to swim to safety. It’s a particularly dangerous hazard because it’s impossible to tell by sight if the water is energized.”
Outdated wiring and a lack of proper safety equipment and routine maintenance on docks and boats can cause such situations where electricity “leaks” into the water. According to the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association, between 10 and 15 milliamps, which is just 1/50th of the wattage of a 60-watt light bulb, can cause drowning. They also report that many ESD deaths have occurred around private docks and boats plugged into shore power while docked.
Safe Electricity, along with the American Boat and Yacht Council and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers/National Electrical Contractors Association, recommends adhering to these steps in order to enhance water recreation safety and accident prevention:
- All electrical installations should be performed by a professional electrical contractor familiar with marine codes and standards, and inspected at least once a year.
- Docks should have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breakers on the circuits feeding electricity to the dock.
- The metal frame of docks should be bonded to connect all metal parts to the alternating current (AC) safety ground at the power source.
That will ensure any part of the metal dock that becomes energized because of electrical malfunction will trip the circuit breaker.
- Neighboring docks can also present a shock hazard. Make your neighbors aware of the need for safety inspections and maintenance. Marinas should comply with NFPA and NEC codes.
For more electrical safety information, visit SafeElectricity.org.