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Published on June 30, 2014

Staying Safe during the Fourth

Fourth of July is a day filled with parades, cookouts and family fun. But it can quickly turn to a day spent in the Emergency Department if safety precautions aren’t taken.

Amy Pannaralla, D.O., a family physician with Palos Medical Group, offers some tips to help keep you safe over the holiday weekend.


“A lot of people tend to think sparklers are safe, but they can burn at up to 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt gold,” says Dr. Pannaralla. “Sparklers should not be given to young children. They could burn themselves and others.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates approximately 8,600 individuals are treated in the Emergency Department yearly due to fireworks injuries.

Dr. Pannaralla stresses the importance of keeping a bucket of water handy in case of accidental fire. For additional safety, burnt fireworks should be placed in water before discarding them to make sure they are fully extinguished.

While glow sticks are a safer, popular alternative for nighttime fun, even those should be used with caution. The liquid used in the sticks can be a skin, eye and stomach irritant. The Illinois Poison Center suggests monitoring the sticks for leaks and never letting children bite or chew on them. If the fluid gets on the skin, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water.

Bugging out

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all family members ages 2 months and older can use insect repellant containing up to a 30 percent concentration of DEET without harmful side effects.  Formulations of 10 percent DEET will last about 90 minutes, and 30 percent will last 5 to 6 hours. 

“There are several ways to enjoy the outdoors without becoming a meal, from citronella candles to insect repellant,” explains Dr. Pannaralla. “Another easy way is to wear long sleeve shirts and pants in the evening hours when mosquitos are out and hunting.”

Water and sun safety

Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Pannaralla urges parents to watch their children when they are in the pool. “Not your phone or even the person you are conversing with,” she says. “Drowning is a silent occurrence. They will not be able to scream.”

And while in the great outdoors, make sure your family is protected from the sun.

“Everyone should be wearing sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 and reapplying the sunscreen every two hours,” Dr. Pannaralla says. “Wear a hat in the sun and apply sunscreen even if you will be in the shade.”

Don’t be overwhelmed by this information. Summer is a time to have fun and be active. Just be informed to help keep your family safe this season. For more information on the topics above, please visit: