Nobody wants to ruin a perfectly good holiday like the Fourth of July with a trip to the emergency room, so here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe from fireworks fiascos and heat-related illness on a day when the “feels like” temperature could well exceed 100.

The National Weather Service has issued an “excessive heat warning” for Independence Day in the Louisville area and is urging people to take safety precautions from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. That’s because the heat index could reach 110 degrees as sizzling temperatures of 93-98 degrees combine with high humidity.

“This is stuff we cannot fool around with,” Mayor Greg Fischer said during a Tuesday news conference. Wednesday is a “day for us all to be looking out for each other.”

The weather service in Louisville noted that the “combination of heat and humidity will lead to an increased risk of heat-related stress and illness. The very young, elderly, those without air conditioning and those participating in strenuous outdoor activities are the most susceptible.”

To stay safe, you’ll want to reschedule rigorous outdoor activity to early morning or the evening, drink plenty of water and wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, according to the weather service. It’s also good to hang out indoors where it’s cool, keep an eye on pets and to check on anyone who doesn’t have air-conditioning.

As for do-it-yourself fireworks displays, you’ve heard it a thousand times: “Let the professionals entertain your family,” State Fire Marshal Mike Haney said in a news release. “By celebrating at a public event instead of at home, you reduce the risk of injury and property damage. You may also avoid violating the law.”

A local advisory went out this week with similar advice, encouraging people not to try to put on faux-pro fireworks displays in their backyards:

“As we celebrate Independence Day this week, the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District is reminding you that it is illegal in Louisville Metro to shoot off airborne and/or exploding fireworks in your yard or neighborhood.”

Also, “excessive smoke from fireworks displays can impact people who are suffering from breathing ailments, such as asthma, emphysema, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). So we encourage you to consider your neighbors before you light that fuse,” the district noted.

That being said, some people are going to do it anyway. Fireworks mishaps resulted in an estimated 12,900 injuries being treated in emergency departments in 2017, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. There were eight deaths.

To avoid such tragedies, here are some tips to keep from the commission:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

 

Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.


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