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Friday, July 4, 2014

4th of July Preparedness

Not actually Erin.
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission. 
Ah, Independence Day: that quintessentially American holiday where, on a hot and humid summer night, we drink too much alcohol and then play with explosives. So let's take a few moments to think about we can prepare ourselves against accident, injury and disaster so that everyone can have a safe holiday.

The Rules of Gun Safety Applied to Fireworks:
  1. Treat all fireworks as if they are incendiary and explosive. 
  2. Never point the firework at anything you aren't prepared to destroy.
  3. Keep all ignition sources deactivated until it is time to light the fireworks.
  4. Be sure of your ballistic trajectory and what lies beyond it (such as: other people's houses, backyards filled with partiers, dry fields or woods that may catch fire, etc).
Just as important, If you're going to partake of alcohol, do not operate fireworks. You wouldn't drive drunk, nor would you operate a gun drunk, so please for the love of all that's holy don't operate an explosive, incendiary device while drunk. 

Things to Bring Along
If you choose to stay sober, it would be a good idea to have a first-aid kit handy. The Adventure Medical Kits Trauma Pack is small enough to fit in a purse or cargo pocket, light enough (11 ounces) that it won't weigh you down, and cheap enough ($21.00) that it won't break the bank. Its inclusion of QuikClot should be a good first-aid package for most commonly-encountered traumatic injuries.

Sadly, that kit doesn't have a provision for burns. The best treatment for burns is immersion in cold running water (EMT friends tell me that gel packs and moisture-infused dressings are snake oil), and if you aren't in a place with a tap or a hose, be sure to being along some bottled water or maybe a canteen. 

While you're at it,  bring along a cell phone so you can call 911 if necessary. Make sure your phone is charged (plug it in now!) and check to see if you have enough bars at your party location. If not, find out where the nearest land line is, and know the address (or directions) well enough to guide EMTs and fire fighters to your location. 



Things to Know
Since we're preparing for firework-related injuries, it makes sense to refresh ourselves on first aid techniques, right? And since folks will be eating, there's a good chance that someone might start choking and require the Heimlich maneuver, or perhaps someone will play too hard in the sun and come down with heat exhaustion.  Go read the Red Cross PDF on first aid/CPR/AED.  If you're East Coast like I am, you have between three and five hours before the festivities begin -- plenty of time to read up!

And since you're already planning on bringing along a fully-charged cell phone, why not load it up with a first aid app? Get it free for Apple, Android, and Kindle

Lots of people beat the heat by swimming in a pool or the ocean. Do you know what drowning looks like? Contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe, it is deceptively quiet (video link):



1. A drowning person can’t call for help -- she has to be able to breathe before she can speak. When a person is drowning, her mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water. There isn’t time for her to exhale, inhale, and call out.

2. She can’t wave for help either. A drowning person instinctively extends her arms to the sides and presses down to lift her mouth out of the water; a child may extend her arms forward. She can’t use her arms to move toward a rescuer or reach for rescue equipment.

3. A drowning person remains upright in the water, with no evidence of kicking. She can struggle for only 20 to 60 seconds before going under.

4. Eyes are glassy, unable to focus, or closed.

5. Hair may be over forehead or eyes.

6. Head is low in the water, with mouth at water level; head may be tilted back with mouth open. A child’s head may fall forward.

7. Sometimes the most important indicator that someone is drowning is that she doesn’t look like she’s drowning. She may just seem to be looking up at the sky, shore, pool deck, or dock. Ask her, “Are you all right?” If she can answer at all, she probably is. If she returns a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to her.

8. Children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.

Have Fun
Be safe, but also have fun! This is a holiday meant to be spent among friends and family. Go and celebrate our nation's birthday!

The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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