The Fourth of July holiday weekend is just around the corner, and the personal injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing want you and your family to enjoy a fun filled and relaxing holiday cooking out, swimming and watching fireworks with friends and loved ones. We hope the following tips for a safe and fun Fourth of July will help make your weekend both memorable and safe.
1. Drunk Driving
Fourth of July weekend is one of the the deadliest days of the year for motorists. Consider the following statistics:
- In 2012, 78 people were killed in drunk driving motor vehicle accidents over the July 4th holiday period (6 p.m. July 3 to 5:59 a.m. July 5).
- Over the Fourth of July periods from 2008-2012, drunk drivers were involved in 40 percent of all traffic fatalities (Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving).
Tips For A Safe and Fun Fourth of July Party: DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!
In order to keep your family safe this Fourth of July, NEVER drink and drive.
If you will be serving alcohol at a party, ask your guests to have a designated driver. Don’t serve alcohol without food, and offer a variety of nonalcoholic beverages and plenty of water. If your guests don’t have a designated driver, offer to call them a cab or drive them home yourself.
If you are drinking at a Fourth of July party, don’t get behind the wheel. Arrange for your own designated driver before the festivities, or ask to spend the night with friends. If you drink and aren’t sober when it’s time to go home, wait until you’re safe to drive or call a taxi. Walk home if you must, but NEVER drive drunk. Police will have an increased presence on the roads on the Fourth of July. If you drive drunk, you not only risk your life and the lives of others, there is an excellent chance you will lose your license or go to jail.
2. Water Safety
Tip For A Safe and Fun Fourth of July: Keep An Eye On Children AND Adults Around Water
The Fourth of July is a great time for trips to the beach and for backyard pool parties. But keeping children and adults safe around water is extremely important, especially when those who are supervising children may be drinking alcohol, or distracted by other party hosting duties.
Consider the following statistics about children and water safety:
- Children under the age of five and young adults/teens between the ages of 15 to 24 years are statistically the most likely to drown.
- Men are four times more likely to drown than women.
- Men account for 80 percent of all drowning victims. Experts suggest this may be because men often overestimate their swimming ability, engage in risky behaviors and abuse alcohol more often than women.
- To ensure safety around water, experts suggest using the “buddy system”. Even experienced adult swimmers shouldn’t swim alone. Everyone should swim with a buddy so that no one is ever unaccounted for during a party or day on the water.
Children should be supervised by more than one adult (if possible), and the adults who are supervising should make the children their primary focus. It’s far too easy for adults to become distracted and lose track of who is watching the children. Especially if the adults are drinking, kids can easily get lost in the shuffle and end up in serious danger.
Adults and children should be instructed not to dive in water less than 10 feet deep, and never to dive in water if they aren’t sure of the depth. Cervical spine injuries and brain injuries can result from diving into shallow water, and can result in paralysis or even death. It’s imperative for adults and children to understand the very real dangers of diving in shallow water.
3. Boating Safety
Tip For A Safe And Fun Fourth of July: Don’t Operate A Boat Under the Influence
Maine’s waterways are a perfect place to spend the Fourth of July weekend, or catch a spectacular view of a local fireworks show in downtown Portland, Lewiston or Bangor. But if you or your loved ones will be out on the water this Fourth of July, please don’t operate your boat under the influence of alcohol.
Also, make sure you have enough life jackets on board for all of your passengers. It is a myth that life jackets don’t save lives. According to one study, seventy three percent of people in boating accidents drowned, and more than ninety percent of those victims weren’t wearing a life jacket. If you are ejected from a boat, even if you are an expert swimmer, you may not be able to keep your head above water if you become disoriented, hit your head or have a seizure. Many boating accidents involve head injuries, and if the victim is wearing a life jacket, it will help keep their head above water until they can be rescued and receive life saving medical attention. Pool noodles, inner tubes and other inflatable toys should are not substitutes for life jackets.
Tips For A Safe and Fun Fourth of July: Stay Hydrated and Wear Sunscreen
If you’re out on the water swimming, spending the day on the beach or simply enjoying a relaxing day in the backyard with friends and family this Fourth of July weekend, don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen and bring along lots of water so that you stay hydrated. Signs of dehydration and heatstroke can include muscle cramps, difficulty breathing, confusion, dry/hot skin, nausea and fainting. If you experience any of those symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
In addition to wearing sunscreen and drinking plenty of fluids, it’s a good idea to seek shade throughout the day. Wear loose, light colored clothing to protect your skin from sunburn, and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes from damaging UV light. Seek out shade when the suns rays are strongest (12-3 pm), and remember to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day, especially after swimming or exercise. Broad spectrum sunscreen and zinc oxide are an effective combination.
Tips For A Safe and Fun Fourth of July: Teach Kids How To Use Sparklers
Sparklers burn between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt gold. They can cause serious burns, injuries to the eyes and permanent scaring. According to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, sparklers caused more fireworks injuries than any other novelty firework.
- If you allow your children to use sparklers, make sure to have a bucket of water nearby at all times.
- Talk to your child about how to hold and use sparklers safely before they try using one for the first time.
- Don’t allow them to use sparklers while running or standing up because they may fall.
- Never throw sparklers and always stand at least six feet away from another person while holding a sparkler.
- Do not hand a child a lit sparkler- instead, hand them an unlit sparkler, and light it while they are standing still and holding the sparkler at arms length.
- Do not hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
- Tell your children not to wave lit sparklers, and show them how to drop spent sparklers carefully into a bucket of water.
Tips For A Safe and Fun Fourth of July: Use Fireworks Safely
Fireworks are a beautiful and memorable part of many Fourth of July celebrations and are legal in Maine. But they are also dangerous and should be used with extreme caution. NEVER purchase or use illegal fireworks. Exercise extreme caution when children are near fireworks. Remember that children under the age of 15 account for 40 percent of all firework related injuries.
Tips For A Safe and Fun Fourth of July: Use Fireworks Responsibly
- If you decide to light fireworks, choose an area that is clear of debris.
- Make sure bystanders are standing/sitting far back from where you’ll be setting off your display.
- Know where pets and children are before setting off each firework. It’s a good idea to keep pets indoors when setting off fireworks, as they can become agitated or injured when fireworks go off.
- Light only one firework at a time.
- If you have a “dud” firework (one that doesn’t go off properly), let it sit for twenty minutes before placing it in a bucket of water.
- NEVER purchase or use illegal fireworks or make homemade fireworks, or sell or distribute fireworks to a minor.
The personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing wish you and your family a safe, happy and healthy Fourth of July. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating, motor vehicle or other injury accident and would like help understanding your legal rights, please call our experienced personal injury attorneys to schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case. Attorneys in our Lewiston, Portland and downtown Portland law offices are available to answer your questions and will put our expertise and experience in the field of personal injury law to work for your family.
Our personal injury attorneys provide our blog as a service to our clients. They are meant to be purely informational.