The National Safety Council has deemed the 4th of July the most dangerous holiday of the year. So before going outside to celebrate, be sure to look over these safety tips for the Fourth of July.

Ear safety

According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one in five American teens suffer some type of hearing loss from various causes. Noise from fireworks can reach levels higher than 155 decibels. To limit dangers of hearing loss, fear and panic from the blasts, ensure that you and your family: 

  • Sit more than 500 feet from where fireworks are launched. If your child tells you his/her ears are buzzing or ringing, it’s a sign that you should move farther away. 
  • Bring earplugs for every family member over 7 years old, and use child-sized ear muffs for your smaller children and babies. Earmuffs are known to effectively reduce dangerous levels of noise on babies as young as six weeks old. 
  • Comfort and reassure your frightened child, and be prepared to make a quick getaway if that doesn’t work. Alternatively, plan to watch the show from your car or a rooftop deck so that a scared little one has somewhere safe to go inside. 

Food safety

The 4th of July and grilling go hand in hand. Here are some food safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Use soap and water to clean all surfaces, utensils, and hands. 
  • Use different plates for raw vs. cooked foods – do not put that perfectly grilled burger back on the same platter where you prepped before cooking.  
  • Use a food thermometer to be sure you have cooked your food to a safe temperature. Burgers should be cooked to 160° Fahrenheit. 
  • Bring plenty of ice or cold packs for your cooler. Do not leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours (one hour if outdoor temperatures spike above 90° Fahrenheit). 

Crowd safety

If you plan on attending a fireworks show or other crowded event:

  • Talk to your children about stranger safety.
  • Make a plan to meet up or stay put throughout the event. 
  • If lost, teach your children to find a security or police officer, or if they cannot spot someone immediately, to find another parent who has children with them, and ask her for help.
  • Tag your children using a temporary tattoo, a bracelet, or a sharpie with your emergency contact information.

Eye safety

Thousands of people, many of them children, suffer eye injuries from fireworks each year. The best way to avoid injury is by attending a professional public fireworks show rather than putting on your own fireworks show.

If you to professional fireworks displays and/or live in communities surrounding the shows:

  • Respect safety barriers and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Do not touch unexploded fireworks; instead, immediately contact local fire or police departments to help.

If you decide to purchase your own fireworks, follow these safety tips to prevent eye injuries:

  • Never let young children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.
  • People who handle fireworks should always wear protective eyewear that meets the parameters set by the American National Standards Institute and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.
  • Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.

If an eye injury from fireworks occurs:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Do not rinse your eyes.
  • Do not apply pressure.
  • Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
  • Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July! 


Leah Shoval, RN, BSN was a registered nurse at Children’s Pediatricians & Associates Capitol Hill.

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Posts from Leah Shoval, RN, BSN