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Tips For A Safe Fourth of July
The Fourth of July weekend is here and the Mecklenburg County Health Department wants you and your family to have fun but be safe during the holiday and all summer long.
June 30, 2006

Charlotte, NC – The Fourth of July weekend is here and the Mecklenburg County Health Department wants you and your family to have fun but be safe during the holiday and all summer long. 

Hot summer weather means spending plenty of time in the sun, the water, and at picnics with family and friends. There are many fun ways to cool down as the temperatures heat up, but there are also just as many dangers looming for kids and adults.

“We want everyone to have a healthy and safe holiday and summer season,” said Health Director Wynn Mabry. “Whether traveling or enjoying activities near home, we ask that people use good judgment and not take any unnecessary risks.”

SUN SAFETY: We all need sun exposure; it is our primary source of Vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium for stronger healthier bones. But it doesn’t take that long in the sun to get the Vitamin D you need and prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to skin and eye damage and possibly even cancer.

• Limit exposure to the sun during hours when the sun’s rays are strongest, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Use sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protective Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Sunscreens should be used everyday, including cloudy days.
• Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
• Keep a close eye on children. They may play outside for hours and not realize until it’s too late that they are sunburned.
• Wear UV protection sunglasses and a hat that shades the head, neck and ears when exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
• Seek shade whenever possible. Although trees do not offer compete sun protection, they provide about 60 percent blockage from the sun’s rays.

WATER SAFETY: Water related injuries and fatalities rise sharply during warm weather holidays. Many injuries and deaths are due to boating accidents and inexperienced swimmers.

• Never leave a child alone around pools, lakes and other bodies of water.
• Always swim with a buddy or partner.
• Read and obey all posted signs.
• Parents should be trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
• Never consume alcohol while swimming or operating a boat.
• Always use approved personal floatation devices (life jackets).

FIREWORKS SAFETY: Fireworks are another cause for concern this time of year. Each summer, dozens of people suffer injuries from bottle rockets, firecrackers and other explosives. Remember, only certain types of fireworks are legal in North Carolina. Sparklers, noisemakers and smoke devices are legal, while aerials such as rockets and roman candles are not.

• Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Never try to relight fireworks that appear to have malfunctioned.
• Make certain other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Keep a bucket of water handy in case of fire.

FOOD SAFETY: Families will gather for cookouts and picnics to celebrate the holiday. Handling food properly in the heat can help avoid the risk of bacteria and food-borne illnesses such as e-coli and listeriosis.

• Keep foods in a cooler or refrigerator until ready to cook.
• Meats should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
• Always make sure that poultry, pork and ground beef products are thoroughly cooked to avoid the threat of salmonella.
• Store perishable items in plastic bags to avoid leaking and cross contamination.
• Refrigerate leftovers promptly.
• When cooking out, always make sure your fire is properly extinguished.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department wishes you a safe and happy holiday. You can find much more information on these and many other health related topics on our website at

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