Tips for Keeping Your Children Safe on Independence Day
The Fourth of July brings a busy and exciting time for children and adults. There are usually plenty of parties and festivities to partake in, many of which are geared for children. In our communities and backyards, there is also a false sense of security and each year, thousands of children are injured on this special holiday. In fact, in any given year there are, on average, more than 2,000 children burned (some severely) because of sparklers and fireworks, a 33% increase in car related injuries and deaths among children as well as an increase in missing children occurrences. Needless to say, safety on the fourth has to be a concern whether you are at home with family or at a packed downtown venue.
First of all, young children do not always have a developed concept of space and time. They are much like the people who get washed down the beach with the tide and then look up to find themselves disoriented. In a crowd, children can shrink away easily and even more frightening, be lured away among a sea of tall adults. Keep them in a stroller, in your arms, on your shoulders and within reaching distance at all times. Many parents opt to use ‘child leashes that make sure their child cannot get away from them and under the circumstances, this is a decent consideration. If they get away from you, it will be very difficult and scary to relocate them instantly and you don't want to experience this feeling. Even if you are at a small gathering or among a group of friends- keep your eyes on your kids at all times.
You also have to consider that as the daytime festivities draw to an end, there are more drunk drivers on the roads and a plethora of intoxicated people splattered all over the landscape. Mothers Against Drunk Driving research estimates that as many as 35% of the population celebrating has indulged in an alcoholic drink on the fourth of July. This means that reckless driving and reckless behavior may surround your family, even at the local fireworks display. Each year state patrol sees a huge increase in the amount of drunk driving arrests made on July 4th. The truth is you can't escape them and have to simply decide to either stay off the roads or drive with extreme caution. Even if you are sitting in long lines of traffic that seem to be inching along, make sure your children stay buckled at all times and remember that most fatal accidents occur near to home.
When it comes to fireworks, there is no getting around the danger. Many laws in states have been reduced and common paraphernalia like sparklers and firecrackers as well as smaller fireworks are sold in department stores. You may think it's cute to allow your child to hold a sparkler, however – this is very dangerous. At 2000 degrees, one flicker could severely burn your child. Groups of kids using sparklers, even with adult supervision cause many injuries each year and they really shouldn't be put in the hands of children. If adults near you are shooting off bottle rockets and other fireworks, have your child watch from inside a car, from a window or somewhere far away from the center of activity. Fireworks are unpredictable at best and can shoot off in many directions wielding extreme danger to children. Your best bet is to not let your children partake in these activities at all.
One last consideration that has affected small towns across the country is the railroad factor. If there are train tracks in your small town and festivities for this celebration are wrapped around them; make sure that NO children play on the train tracks. Sometimes, towns will actually shut down train traffic for certain hours; however, children are killed on train tracks every year.
It is definitely better to be safe than sorry on Independence Day. Having a good time and enjoying the festivities can be safe as long as responsible parental supervision is always exercised.