This weekend many people in the Quad Cities and throughout the country will be celebrating America's 246th birthday. That celebration comes with pool parties, grilling, fireworks, consuming alcohol, boating, and many other fun activities. While we'll be having fun this weekend, the American Red Cross and other agencies want to remind us to stay safe this holiday weekend.

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Quad Citizens are getting ready to celebrate Independence Day during this upcoming three-day weekend and many people plan to attend fireworks displays, a picnic, and/or enjoy some fun on a beach, even right here in the Quad Cities. The American Red Cross offers these tips so you can enjoy a fun-packed, safe holiday.

Fireworks Safety

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public firework show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks. If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

Picnic Safety

  • Wash your hands before preparing the food.
  • Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs.
  • If you are going to cook on the grill, never grill indoors. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • Always supervise the grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  • Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.

Beach/Pool Safety

Whether you plan on going on a lake or the Mississippi River or swimming in a private or public pool this weekend, make sure you watch the weather and get out of the water at the first sign of lightning or the rumble of thunder. Stay indoors and away from water for 30 minutes after the last lightning flashes or thunder roars.

Plan ahead for aquatic activities:

  • Whether swimming in a private pool, lake, or river, always designate a “water watcher” whose sole responsibility is to keep a close eye and constant attention on everyone in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over.
  • Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Protect your neck – don’t dive in headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Then, turn and swim to shore. If you can't swim to shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore. Draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.

Stay safe this 4th of July weekend, Quad Cities!

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