You just can't resist the lure of fireworks. Even though you attend public shows, the thrill of that home-based explosive is just too great.
The Greater Omaha Chapter of the National Safety Council and the Nebraska state fire marshal offer ways to avoid a serious burn or the loss of a digit or two because you're careless with fireworks.
“Every year fireworks cause serious, life-changing injuries and even death,” said Dr. Adi Pour, Douglas County health director, in a press release. “They can be especially unpredictable in the hands of people who are not experienced at using them.”
Many of the fun things we do in the summer come with built-in dangers.
Children and pets are susceptible to heat exhaustion or heatstroke, especially if they are left in cars. Children also can easily get dehydrated.
Parents should watch for signs of heatstroke, says Dr. Kelli J. Shidler of Boys Town Pediatrics.
And everyone should avoid sunburn. Humans walk a fine line between getting vitamin D from sunshine, which supports healthy bones, and getting too much sun, which can cause skin damage.
“All children need to protect their skin when playing in the sun,” Shidler said. “Doing so at an early age will help decrease their risk of sunburn now and lower their risk of skin cancer as they get older.”
Water may be the most dangerous element of summer. For people between the ages of 5 and 24, drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death in the United States, according to kidshealth.org.
Everyone should learn how to swim. It won't eliminate drowning deaths, but it goes a long way to reducing them.
“The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising,” said Jane Husz, coordinator of Safe Kids Sarpy/Cass. “Kids drown quickly and quietly. A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help.”
Other summer threats are accidents that occur as we ride bicycles or don't watch where we're walking; bites from stinging or poisonous bugs; and food that spoils in the heat.
Eating outside is great fun, but according to the American Red Cross, hundreds of people are injured each year using backyard gas or charcoal grills.
You can't protect yourself from everything. But here are a few safety tips that could help.
» Choose fireworks that are legal in your area and that are age-appropriate. Young children should not handle fireworks, not even sparklers.
» Teenagers should be supervised.
» Have a fire extinguisher, a bucket of water or a garden hose turned on. Also have a first-aid kit on hand. Wear sturdy shoes.
» Follow all the manufacturer's instructions. Light only one at a time, and never try to relight a dud. Never light fireworks in containers.
» Never point a firework at a person or animal.
» You've heard of designated drivers. You should have a designated shooter, someone who refrains from drinking alcohol and wears safety glasses. Outdoor grilling, outdoor eating
» Do not let children or pets get close to grills that are in use or after grilling has been completed. Grills stay hot after their use stops.
» Never leave a grill unattended.
» Grill only on charcoal or propane grills outdoors; keep them away from deck railings, the house and overhanging tree branches.
» If using a charcoal grill, let coals cool completely before disposing of them.
» Check a propane grill's gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.
» If you smell gas while cooking on a gas grill, immediately get away from it and call the Fire Department.
» Make sure grilled food is the correct interior temperature. Don't leave out foods that need to be kept chilled to be safe.
» Avoid sun exposure during the peak sun hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m.)
» Always use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15; higher for fair skin. However, sunscreens should be used cautiously on infants younger than 6 months old.
» Cover up, if possible, and wear a hat.
» Keep well-hydrated; drink plenty of water often (every half-hour when exercising or working) when outside for extended periods.
» Get out of the sun if you feel overly tired or slightly sick when in the heat. Seek a cool, shady place to rest.
» Don't leave children (or pets) in a car.
» Always supervise children while they are in the water. Don't let phones, books, cooking, the doorbell — anything — distract you.
» Warn children not to swim around pool drains, and make sure pools have anti-entrapment drain covers and back-up devices.
» Enroll children in swimming lessons.
» Don't leave toys in or near a pool. They could attract unsupervised kids.
» Walk, don't run, in a pool area.
» Enclose a home pool or spa with four-sided fence that is a minimum of 5 feet in height and has self-closing and self-latching gates.
» Don't allow children with diarrhea to swim in pools. Although chlorine kills germs in water, it doesn't kill everything, including germs from infectious diarrhea.
» Warn children not to swallow pool water.
» Learn infant and child CPR. (It can take less than two hours.) Also learn how to use rescue equipment.
» Make sure that children swim in designated areas in oceans, lakes and rivers. Don't swim in rivers or lakes that don't have lifeguards.
» Before diving into any water, make sure you know how deep it is.
» Be sure every child wears a proper-fitting life jacket when on a boat. Adults should wear them, too.
Bicycles, skateboards, skates
» Always wear a proper helmet.
» Make sure that a bicycle is in good working order and that skateboards are safety-approved.
» Make sure child is ready and able to ride a two-wheeler bicycle without training wheels before allowing him or her to ride one.
» Skateboarders should wear protective wrist, knee or elbow pads.
» Skaters should skate only on designated paths or rinks, not in the street.
» Always wear shoes.
» Use sidewalks whenever possible.
» Teach children to walk, not run, across streets, and not to dart out from between parked cars.
» Don't get too close to garbage trucks or other service vehicles. Pay attention to back-up warning beeps.
» Learn to recognize poison ivy, oak and sumac. Stick to paths, if possible, when walking or hiking.
» Don't use perfumed soaps or hair sprays on children. They attract biting and stinging bugs.
» Avoid places where insects congregate, such as stagnant water or uncovered foods.
» Use insect repellent, but don't use insect repellent-sunscreen combinations. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied, but insect repellent does not.
» If someone is stung, back the stinger out by gently scraping with a credit card or fingernail.
» To protect against ticks in wooded areas, wear long sleeves and pants. Perform tick checks on people and pets.
» Children younger than 16 should not use riding mowers. Children younger than 12 should not use push mowers.
» Only use a lawn mower that stops when someone lets go of the handle. Do not pull a mower backward or mow in reverse.
» Do not allow children to ride as passengers on a lawn mower. In fact, young children shouldn't be allowed near a mower.
» No bare feet anywhere in the vicinity of a mower.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Greater Omaha Chapter of the National Safety Council, Nebraska State Fire Marshal, National Fire Protection Association, Douglas County Health Department, Nebraska Safety Council, American Red Cross, Sarpy/Cass Department of Health & Wellness, Boys Town National Research Hospital, kidshealth.org, pbs.org/parents, Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, Waste Management, National Traffic Safety Council. Boys Town Pediatrics.