4th of July celebration safety tips

With Fourth of July celebrations around the corner, it's a good time to stop and remember a few safety tips. Celebrations for many generally mean fireworks, a backyard barbecue, maybe a trip to the beach or lake. Whatever people have planned, the American Red Cross wants you to enjoy the holiday and has steps you can follow to ensure it's a safe one.

"We want everyone to have a great holiday, and a safe one," said Executive Director of the Texas Panhandle and Eastern Texas Panhandle Chapters, Steve Pair. "Whether the weekend will involve fireworks, grilling or going to the seashore, we have safety tips everyone can follow".

First, fireworks safety. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, they should follow these safety steps:

- Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.

- Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.

- Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.

- Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud".

- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

- Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials.

- Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

Next, grilling safety. Every year people in this country are injured while using backyard charcoal or gas grills. Follow these steps to safety cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

- Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.

- Never grill indoors, not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.

- Make sure everyone, including the pets, stay away from the grill.

- Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.

- Use the long-handed tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.

- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using grills.

Third, swimming safety. Swimming is the most popular summer activity. The best thing you can do to help your family stay safe is to enroll in age-appropriate swim lessons. Follow these safety tips whenever you are in, on or around water.

- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

- Always swim with a buddy, do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a life-guarded beach.

- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well.

- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child's life to another child.

- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets.

- If you go boating, wear a life jacket.

- Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgement, balance and coordination.