Friday, July 3, 2015

4th of July safety guide

The phone calls that we get following the July 4th holiday are fairly predictable so here are some tips that can help you all have a safe & healthy holiday weekend.

Since some of the holiday festivities may involve large crowds, here are some recommendations for dealing with situations where you might find yourself in a throng of people. Dress your child in bright clothes that stand out from the pack. Take a photo of them before you set out, so if heaven forbid you get separated, you have a current picture to pass around that shows exactly what they are wearing. Make a solid plan with your older children. What should they do if they lose sight of you? Where should you meet up? This is a good time for the "what would you do if...? Activity:

Will it be loud? Loud music and fireworks can be damaging to your child's sensitive ears. Consider getting some ear protection if you are going to be someplace that can put hearing at risk:

Please be very careful of fireworks. If you are skipping the organized shows and planning on setting them off yourself, make sure your kids don't have any access to the fireworks or matches ahead of time. Do an inventory and know exactly what you have on hand.
Keep the kids at a safe distance during the actual fireworks. Have a bucket of water or a hose nearby.

I have NEVER had a morning-after-July 4th without a call or two about fireworks injuries. Don't let this be you making that call. I will be kind, and I will help you out, but I may make you squirm! 

If you are in San Francisco chances are you don't have to worry about the heat. When my kids were growing up, our July 4th fireworks watching usually included warm blankets, hot chocolate and lots of thick fog. I remember one year when Lauren was 3 or 4 and we were driving to a vantage point, she saw a traffic light through the fog. "Is that a firework? It's beautiful!" Ah, our San Francisco babies.

For those of you escaping the city make sure you stay well hydrated and protected from sun: 

Get in the habit of doing a skin check at least every 30 minutes (more frequently for fairer kids) to see if it is time to reapply the sunscreen. Be very wary about applying any of the aerosol sunscreens around a heat source (like a grill.) These are flammable and there are horror stories out there about terrible burns that have occurred.

Let's move our discussion over to grills. I was watching the news the other night and a story came on about the hazards of metal bristles coming loose from utensils that are used to clean your grill. These metal strands may get lodged into pieces of food. People have been reporting mouth injuries and worse. Happily, that is one call that I have never gotten,  but it seemed like a caution worth sharing. Check your utensil brushes to make sure there is nothing loose. While you are at it, check the grill surfaces to make sure there are no pieces of any foreign objects that can get stuck in the food.

Make sure your child can't get anywhere near any type of grill. The danger begins from the moment you light it and are waiting for it to be ready, until long after the cooking is done and you are certain it is completely cool.

If you are cooking meat, make sure that it is thoroughly and safely cooked. Food borne illnesses don't just love undercooked meat; pay attention to any picnic foods that will be out of refrigeration for several hours:

If your picnic/meal is outside and you will be spending time in grassy, wooded places, make sure you do a head to toe check for ticks once back inside:

No, it is not okay to keep your child in bubble wrap; that isn't my intent. Go forth and have a festive, fun and safe holiday. Happy 4th of July!

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