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Just as the Fourth of July holiday approaches and people head outdoors for summer fun, temperatures are forecast to soar.  The National Weather Service expects a heat wave to build this weekend for Eastern Pennsylvania, and it is likely to last into next week. In the northern part of the nation, a heat wave is defined as three days in a row with high temperatures at or above 90 degrees.

“This puts many people at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” said Guy Triano, CEO for the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region. “In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods.”

The Red Cross urges everyone to stay safe in the intense heat and humidity by following these top six safety tips:

  1. Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.

Look before you Lock

2. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

3. Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

Pet

4. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

5. If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (libraries, theaters, malls, etc.).

6. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

The Fourth of July holiday is here and many of us will enjoy the outdoors, watch fireworks or host a family picnic. The American Red Cross wants everyone to enjoy their holiday and offers safety steps they can follow.

The Independence Day Holiday is a great time for summer fun and the Red Cross wants to make sure everyone stays safe during their celebration. It’s also a time when the number of people giving blood drops, but the need for blood donations continues. We are also asking that everyone consider giving blood over the holiday.

Firework 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. Many states outlaw most fireworks. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks. If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  1. Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  5. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

PICNIC SAFETY

  1. Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs.
  2. Wash your hands before preparing the food.
  3. If you are going to cook on a grill, always supervise the grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  4. Never grill indoors. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  5. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.

 

Fireworks by the Philadelphia Art Museum

I received a letter from my youngest son yesterday. He is away at summer camp and loving every minute of it. His letters are full of great stuff like – “a ball hit me right in the face really hard but then it dropped into my arms so the guy was out and it was okay.” Or this wonder-goodie, “I’m working on some back flips off the high diving board into the lake but I keep missing!” Missing what? The diving board itself? The water? My favorite was the report on preparations for July 4th. “The Bridgers (Counselors in Training) are building the wood pile for the bonfire in the meadow. It’s super high and the flames will be really intense!” Really? A huge bonfire in near a wooded area containing several hundred children between the ages of 7 and 17?

It’s July 4th people! That’s the kind of crazy stuff we get up to celebrate the birth of our nation. So today, July 3rd, is a good day to do some thinking and some planning before we welcome our friends and get out the barbeque. Friends of mine drive from Philadelphia to South Carolina for a large family gathering at this time every summer. One year, a chaotic evening with small children delayed their journey and left them low on gas and unprepared for terrible traffic. They had forgotten to fill water bottles and pack snacks for the car and spent a very stressful few hours getting out of the northeast corridor madness. Needless to say, they learned to value of planning ahead. The length of their journey has them driving quite late at night. They plan their route carefully and switch drivers at their frequent rest stops.

July 4th will be the start, for many of us, of an extended outdoor weekend. I will tell you from personal experience that while there are many fabulous ways to spend this great holiday, sitting in the emergency room with an active and energetic child is not one of them. Again, it helps to make expectations clear at the start of any gathering. I you are celebrating by a pool, check out these important guidelines for pool safety. Make children aware of dangers if they are in unfamiliar surroundings. Tell them that swinging on the swing set is fine, but walking on top of it as if on a balance beam 12 feet from the ground is not a wise choice. This may seem obvious to some but not to many 8-12 yr. old boys I know. Explain that while football is a great American game, the tackle variety is not an appropriate option when playing with your five year old cousins. Keep a first aid kit at hand for skinned knees and other abrasions, and keep all youthful enthusiasm away from the grill. If it can char your hamburgers, it can really harm a child.

Speaking of that grill, use it wisely! If your charcoal briquettes have been sitting out on the damp part of the porch, spring for some new ones that will light up nicely with safe fuel. If it’s raining – and the possibility is in the forecast – don’t move your grill onto the porch or into the garage. Don’t grill! The kitchen has several heating elements that will cook your food safely and efficiently. I recommend checking out the American Red Cross tips for a safe July 4th. It’s informative reading.

Most of all have a wonderful and safe holiday. Warm summer evenings with friends and family are a precious gift. The American Red Cross urges you to protect everyone you love with some careful planning.