How to stay safe this 4th of July holiday

Posted by Debra Worley - email
Writing contributed by WECT Intern Michelle Peck

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon and local doctors are cautioning all citizens to stay safe this 4th of July holiday while at the pool, beach, or enjoying fireworks.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission, there are nearly 9,000 injuries associated with fireworks a year that send people to the ER.

McMahon provides the following tips about fireworks safety:

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close-by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
  • Only light fireworks with a long-stemmed lighter.

Pediatrician at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Dr. Patrick Renton said children ages 10-14 are at the most risk for being harmed by fireworks and they must be supervised.

The doctor also advised to set off fireworks in a well ventilated, open area.

"If you have children with asthma around fireworks, they need to bring their inhalers," said Dr. Renton.  "The smoke from fireworks is a big trigger for asthmatic attacks. It's not saying they shouldn't go see the fireworks, they should just be smart about it and bring their inhalers so they don't have an asthma attack."

In addition, McMahon wants citizens to pratice safety around swimming pools.

"Sadly, most deaths from drowning occur within a few feet of safety," said McMahon in a statement. "The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim.

McMahon gives the following tips about pool safety:

  • If no lifeguard is on duty, do not let children swim unless they are accompanied by an adult who knows lifesaving techniques and first aid.
  • Post CPR instructions and directions to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number in the pool area.
  • Look around the pool area to be certain lifesaving devices are readily available for emergency use.
  • Be sure covers are installed on all drains of a swimming pool or in a wading pool. The suction created by the pool's circulating pumps can be very dangerous unless it is reduced by covers.
    Take frequent breaks where everyone gets out of the water, drinks water, reapplies sunscreen and rests.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.
  • To reduce the risk of eye, ear, nose or throat infection from contaminated water, swim only in pools in which water quality is properly maintained. The water should appear crystal clear, be continuously circulated and be maintained at a level that allows free overflow into the gutter or skimmer. There should not be a strong odor of ammonia or chlorine.

"Following these precautions will help the children, citizens and visitors  of New Hanover County stay safe and healthy this holiday weekend and throughout the summer," said McMahon in a statement.

McMahon gives the following tips about beach safety:

  • Swim in a supervised, marked area with a lifeguard present, and swim with others. Never swim alone.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Watch out for the "dangerous too's" - too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Look for water that is reasonably clear and free of floating materials and odors. Avoid swimming at beaches where there are large populations of ducks, geese or gulls. The waste produced by these birds causes high bacteria levels in the water.
  • Look for movement in the water; it helps keep the water clean. Do not swim in stagnant or still water.
  • Do not swim at any beach right after a heavy rain. Runoff following a heavy rain may result in a high bacteria level.
  • When diving at a beach, exercise extreme caution. Beach water is not as clear as water in a pool, so underwater obstructions may not be visible.
    Avoid having beach water in your mouth or nose.

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