Safety tips for a happy and healthy Fourth of July

The Independence Day holiday is the most dangerous American holiday weekend of the year, according to doctors.

As Americans celebrate outdoors this weekend, physicians expect to see a surge in patients seeking treatment for injuries and illnesses over the July 4th holiday.

Hidden hazards

25 million pounds of fireworks are sold each year to celebrate America’s birthday, but with those bright celebrations come hidden dangers.

Fireworks injuries. In the month around the July Fourth holiday, 65 percent of people on average seek medical treatment every day with fireworks-related injuries.

— Sparklers and rockets accounted for more than 40 percent of all fireworks injuries.

— The most common fireworks injuries were to hands and fingers — 36%  — but 22% of injuries were to heads, faces and ears. 16% were eye injuries (source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission).

Heat Stroke. The most serious heat-related illness. Body temps can rise to 106 degrees in 10 to 15 minutes, and sweating just isn’t enough to cool down. Without immediate treatment, heat stroke can cause permanent disability or be fatal.

Dry drowning.  Water is inhaled while swimming, creating irritation in the airway. The irritation can cause muscle spasms, leading to impaired breathing.

Secondary drowning.  Water is inhaled while swimming and doesn’t clear the lungs. The irritation caused by the water can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema. The drowning actually occurs from the lung fluid, not the water.

Sun safety tips

There are more cases of skin cancer each year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. In fact, of the seven most common cancers, melanoma is the only type of cancer that is on the rise.

Know when to seek shade or lather up. UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Seek shade or apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. For lasting protection, be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, even on cloudy days.

Choose sunscreen wisely. Be sure the sunscreen is labeled “broad spectrum,” which provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays. And use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF.

Use extra caution at higher altitudes. UV exposure can be stronger at higher altitudes because there is less atmosphere to absorb the UV radiation.

Avoid the burn. Sunburns significantly increase the lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.

Wear proper clothing. Long sleeved shirts, pants, hats and UV resistant sunglasses all provide sun protection, even on a cloudy day when UV rays can still be strong.


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