While accidents (and insurance claims) rise around all holidays, Independence Day is in a league of its own. Considered “The Deadliest Holiday of the Year” by many experts, it combines risk factors common to other holidays – like alcohol consumption and congested traffic conditions – with seasonal factors like heat stress, grilling, motorcycle riding and, of course, fireworks. Here are a few tips for keeping your 4th of July accident- and claim-free.
Don’t drive distracted…or drunk
Independence Day typically has the most fatal crashes of any day of the year, including New Years. With more people on the roadways, it is critical that you keep your eyes on the road. Don’t check your phone, eat, put on make-up, play with the kids, or do anything other than pay attention while you’re driving. And above all, don’t drink and drive.
Alcohol and heat don’t mix
Speaking of drinking, did you know that heat increases the effects of alcohol? One beer may feel like several if you’re consuming it in 90-degree weather. Dehydration is a real concern, too; make sure to drink at least a glass of water for every cocktail you down.
Sun and Alcohol: A Dangerous Cocktail
Don’t let yourself get overheated
Nothing feels better than summer sunshine after a long Wisconsin winter, but a little bit goes a long way. Sunburns can lead to skin cancer and heat stress can be fatal. Both occur most frequently in July. Position yourself in the shade at that backyard barbeque, and if you are going to be in the sun, wear a hat and use sunscreen. Also keep in mind the sun’s effects can be even more harmful on pets, particularly in a car. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can become extremely dangerous within just minutes – and cracking a window does almost nothing. Even if you are just running a quick errand, leave Fido safely at home.
Pets in Vehicles
July 4th is one of the most popular days of the year for grilling…and also one of the peak days for grill-related fires. To avoid them, keep your grill at least 3 feet away from the exterior walls of your home, deck railings, and out from under eaves or low overhanging branches. Check your gas grill for leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the gas hose; if there are visible bubbles around the hose, there is a leak. Turn the propane tank off immediately and have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
Home Grill Fires
Avoid overloading extension cords and outlets
Between the lights on your patio, slow cookers filled to the brim, and the sound system blasting your favorite summer songs, the outlets on both the interior and exterior of your home will be on high demand during the holiday. To avoid electrical fires, never plug more than two appliances into an outlet at once. If more outlet space is required, an extension cord is a great temporary option. If you are using an extension, make sure it is for exterior use.
Beware of fireworks (even sparklers)!
While they are fun, and an integral part of most 4th of July celebrations, fireworks are inherently dangerous and often illegal. Even sparklers should be used with extreme caution, as they can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Only light one sparkler at a time and don’t pass lit sparklers around. When done, put all your used sparklers in a bucket of water to cool off before disposing. As for larger fireworks, make sure to check local regulations before shooting off that bottle rocket. Best of all, walk down to the park and leave the pyrotechnics to professionals.
Are sparklers safe to use? What about fireworks?