Happy Fourth of July!

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For those of you planning to celebrate this holiday weekend outside in the sun or on the lake, take a peek at some tips for staying safe while having fun.

Food

As families and friends gather, great food and goodies are bound to be included. But while you enjoy a leisurely day out in the sun and heat, be mindful of how long your food has been sitting out.Children at Fourth of July picnic

The Food and Drug Administration states that a good rule of thumb is not to let food sit out in the danger zone for more than two hours. The danger zone is the window between 40 and 140 degrees. Also, if the temperature outside is 90 degrees or hotter, never let food sit out longer than an hour. Failing to do so allows bacteria to multiply quickly and could cause foodborne illness.

Other food tips by the FDA:

  • Store cold food at or below 40 degrees; store hot food at or above 140 degrees
  • Pack meat, poultry and seafood while still frozen
  • Pack beverages and perishable food in separate coolers
  • Try to limit the number of times the cooler is opened
  • Keep raw foods separate from cooked or prepared foods
  • Place serving dishes of salads or desserts directly on ice

Sun

Lately, the days have been warm, and the sun has been strong (albeit with some rain here and there), so as you spend time outside, be sure to practice sun safety. The sun gives off harmful radiation called ultraviolet rays, and the longer you stay in the sun, the more susceptible you are to skin damage and to dangerous skin cancer.

Follow these tips to protect your skin:

  • Cover exposed skin with sunglasses, hats, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible.
  • Search out shady areas, and don’t spend too much time in direct sunlight. Remember that sand and water can reflect sunlight and increase UV radiation.
  • Use a waterproof broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. The higher, the better. Reapply it often if you spend a long day outside or in the water.
  • If your kids love exploring outside, keep a close eye on them and limit the time they spend in the sun. Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight. You can also promote safe habits by setting a positive example with your own actions.

A photo of a USA stars and stripes flag with sparklers in the foreground representing the 4th of July.

Fireworks

Fireworks are an Independence Day staple, a spectacular display that Americans across the nation use to celebrate. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, they are not safe in the hands of consumers. Instead, it recommends that if you would like to see fireworks, you should attend a show coordinated by experts.

But if you are planning to set off your own fireworks, exercise extreme caution. The NFPA reports that fireworks cause nearly 18,500 fires each year, as well as thousands of injuries. Sparklers alone account for almost one-quarter of emergency room injuries caused by fireworks, as they are hot enough (1200 degrees) to inflict third-degree burns. Read all instructions carefully and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Finally, don’t forget to keep an eye on your little ones if you attend events where fireworks are used.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend!