5 Things To Watch Out For on the 4th of July

Independence Day of the United States, also referred to as Fourth of July, is a federal holiday commemorating the day America became a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire. While this day has profound historical significance for most Americans, the holiday is also used today as an excuse for excessive drinking and risky behavior. The Fourth of July is the most dangerous American holiday weekend of the year. Car accidents, drunk drivers, underage drinking and drug use, accidents involving fireworks, alcohol poisoning and drowning incidents lead to hundreds of deaths and injuries that occur over the days leading up to and on this holiday.

1. Car Accidents and Drunk Drivers

Research has found that the majority of deaths on and around the Fourth of July are from car accidents. Between 2008 and 2012, there were an average of 127 traffic fatalities on July 4th . Independence day is the deadliest day on the road for Americans.  On this summer holiday, there are more drivers on the road, an increased number of distractions, riskier driving behavior, and an increased number of drunk drivers. 41 percent of the traffic fatalities on the Fourth of July involved drivers under the influence. A majority of people attend social events outside on this holiday. The heat and the sun increase the risk of partygoers becoming dehydrated. Dehydration increases the effects produced by alcohol while simultaneously causing drowsiness.  This is a deadly combination for party goers who make the decision to drive.

2. High Instances of Underage Drinking and Drug Use

Celebrations on the Fourth of July tend to cater around drug and alcohol use. Unfortunately, not all the alcohol consumption occurs among legal adults. Underage drinking and drug use is at its highest on the day and the days leading up to this federal holiday.  A study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that hospital emergency room visits involving underage drinking nearly double during the Fourth of July holiday. The increase in emergency room visits are due to fire-related injuries, alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related injuries, and DUI related injuries. It is imperative that parents know what their teens are up to at all times and especially on this danger-filled holiday. It is up to parents to discuss the dangers related to underage drinking.

3. Firework Related Injuries and Fatalities

Fireworks are synonymous with our celebration of Independence Day. On average, 230 people go to the hospital everyday due to firework-related injuries in the month of July.  Most fireworks are illegal for consumer use, even if they are available for purchase. In the month leading up to the holiday, firework stands begin to pop up in cities that allow the sale of fireworks. While playing with fireworks may seem like a fun and festive way to celebrate the holiday, they can be extremely dangerous. A majority of the firework-related injuries involve the hands, fingers and eyes. While most people have a seemingly reasonable understanding of the dangers associated with fireworks, many people do not know the dangers associated with sparklers. Sparklers burn at a temperature of about 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. It is important that parents discuss the dangers associated with fireworks with their children. While the use of fireworks is never recommended, if parents should choose to forego all warnings, any fireworks or sparklers that are used – should only be under direct parental supervision. All of these dangers are multiplied by the inclusion of alcohol and other drugs. When individuals are under the influence, an already dangerous situation becomes dramatically more so.

4. Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a serious, and sometimes deadly, consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol is a short period of time. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can affect your heart rate, breathing, body temperature, gag reflex and potentially lead to coma and death. Most people enjoy the holiday outdoors in the sun. This further increases dangers associated with drinking. The sun and outdoor heat contribute to dehydration, which intensifies the effects produced by alcohol. The emergency rooms are filled with cases of alcohol poisoning on this day-drinking holiday. It is important that people are aware of the signs of alcohol poisoning and are able to differential the symptoms from normal drunkenness. If someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning they need immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning:

– Confusion

– Vomiting

– Slow breathing

– Blue-tinged skin or pale skin

– Low body temperature

– Passing out

5. Drowning Incidents

As the summer weather continues to get hotter and the Independence Day gatherings of family and friends approach, it becomes increasingly important to be aware of the risk drowning incidents in pools and bodies of water. The risk of accidental drowning is highest for children and for people who are intoxicated. The number of accidental drowning incidents is significantly higher on the days leading up to the holiday and on the Fourth of July than compared to other days during the year.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found than an average of 23 children die each year in drowning accidents on the Fourth of July over the past three years in the U.S. Millions of people head to the water on this holiday weekend.  Rivers, lakes, marinas and harbors are dangerously crowded over the holiday weekend. Coast Guard statistics have revealed that 17 percent of all fatal boating accidents are related to alcohol use. A majority of the people who die in boating accidents are victims of drowning. Intoxication significantly inhibits a person’s ability to swim. It is imperative that if you or your children decide to spend time at the beach, around the pool, or around any body of water – extra precautions are taken. As previously stated, as a parent, the only way to ensure the safety of your children is to talk frequently and seriously about the risks involved with underage drinking and the dangers surroundings this holiday.

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