A host of local agencies are providing safety tips for enjoying July 4 holiday celebrations.

The Red Cross said millions of drivers will take to local roads and the sheer number of card will create problems. The organization said basic driver safety such as wearing seatbelts, obeying speed limits, driving sober, avoiding construction sites and ignoring cell phones will save lives.

“Everyone looks forward to having fun over the Fourth of July, and the Red Cross wants to make sure people know how to stay safe while enjoying the holiday,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the Los Angeles Region of the American Red Cross.

The organization said drivers on the roads at night after a fireworks show should use caution and make sure windshields, windows and lights are clean before use.

American Family Care (AFC), a nationwide healthcare provider, said summer heat is a significant source of health issues around the July 4 holiday. They said infants and children under age 4, people over 65, overweight people, people with certain illnesses and those taking certain medications are most at risk for heat-related illnesses.

Heat stroke, the most serious heat-related illness, can occur quickly when the body temp increases in a matter of minutes. Heat exhaustion is a milder illness and can happen over a period of several days when temperatures are above average and patients don’t take in enough fluids. In either case people should seek medical aid if they experience symptoms such as confusion, dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration), dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps or nausea.

Those seeking relief from heat in pools or the ocean should do so safely. AFC said swimmers with intestinal illnesses can release Cryptosporidium bacteria into the water, and anyone who gets water in their mouth is also at risk for the bacteria.

“Summer is the time to take it easy, but you can never take a vacation from proper health precautions and safety,” says Dr. Bruce Irwin, founder of American Family Care.

According to the Center for Disease Control, every day about 10 people die from unintentional drowning, and nearly 80 percent of drowning victims are male. The CDC says swimmers should avoid alcohol use while near the water, always wear appropriate safety equipment and educate themselves about water safety.

Once out of the pool, the Red Cross warns residents to be careful around grills. They say to always keep the grill supervised, never grill in an enclosed area, keep pets away from the grill and keep flammable material away from the fire.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, June and July are peak months for grilling fires with gas grills creating more problems for cooks. According to NFPA, gas grills are involved in an average of 7,200 home fires per year while charcoal or solid-fueled grills are involved in an average of 1,400 per year.

The NFPA said cooks should check gas grill hoses for leaks in advance of grilling by applying a light soap/water solution and checking for bubbles. They said gas also has a distinct smell that cooks should be aware of. If cooks smell gas while the grill is on, get away from the grill, do not move it and call the fire department.

Cooks using charcoal grills should never add flammable liquid to the coals once they are lit and be sure to let all coals cool completely before disposing of ashes in a metal container.

matt@smdp.com

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