In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

July 3, 2018

3 Tips for a Safe and Festive Fourth

By In the Loop

Don't let your Fourth of July celebration turn into a dangerous situation. These three timely tips will ensure you have a fun, safe and healthy holiday.

To those in the Midwest, snow days still don't feel that far behind. Yet somehow the calendar says tomorrow is the Fourth of July. And while the holiday is a highpoint in many people's summer schedules, it's also a highpoint for many summer risks. Below, we offer a few tips to help keep your summer celebrations safe, on our nation's birthday and beyond.

  • Where there's smoke, there are fireworks: We won't argue that the rockets' red glare can be a beautiful sight to behold. But leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals or you could be heading to the emergency department faster than you can say "Hold my beer." "Fireworks are extremely dangerous, and I've seen extensive damage to hands, face and eyes," says Jose Pulido, M.D. An ophthalmologist at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Pulido tells Mayo Clinic News Network that damage ranges "from just corneal abrasions, all the way to such extensive damage that we have to remove the eyes." And that's just the eye damage. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that firework injuries lead to more than 10,000 emergency department visits a year.

If you decide to light your own fireworks, wear eye and ear protection, move away from the fireworks after
you light them, and keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy to put out unexpected fires. Make sure a
trusted — and sober — adult does the lighting. Kids and fireworks don't mix. (Talk about a summer bummer.)

  • Keeping food cool is no picnic: When you set the picnic table, a few precautions can mean the difference between a food coma and food poisoning. No. 1 on the list: Keep foods at a safe temperature. To keep cold foods cool, fill a bowl with ice and set the serving dish on top. To ensure your grilled items are cooked to perfection, use a meat thermometer to check their temperature before serving. Ground meats should reach 160 degrees. Poultry should push 165. Food shouldn't sit out for more than two hours, and just half that long when temperatures soar to 90 degrees or higher. Not watching the clock? "When in doubt, throw it out," Kate Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian, tells Mayo Clinic News Network. "You don't want anyone to get sick."
  • Beat the heat: Staying cool isn't just about comfort. It's also about staying safe. "What starts out as heat cramps can quickly move to heat exhaustion and then heatstroke when the body loses the ability to regulate and cool itself down," David Claypool, M.D., an emergency medicine physician, tells Mayo Clinic News Network. To avoid heat-related illnesses, think prevention. Stay hydrated; wear loose, light-colored clothing; and wear sunscreen to keep from getting sunburn. If you notice symptoms of heatstroke — including a high fever (104 F or greater), changes in mental status or behavior, or nausea and vomiting — call 911.

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Tags: Dietitian, Dr. David Claypool, Dr. Jose Pulido, emergency medicine, food poisoning, Health and Wellness, heatstroke, Katherine Zeratsky, Mayo Clinic News Network, Ophthalmology

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