It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations — fireworks, a backyard barbecue and maybe a trip to the beach. Whatever people have planned, we want them to enjoy the holiday. This means being as safe as possible this Tuesday, July 4.
Surprisingly, there are dangers in even the most all-American of holiday activities: the backyard barbecue. The American Red Cross identifies a number of things that homeowners can do to ensure a better chance of spending the Independence Day holiday with family and friends, rather than in a hospital because of some unexpected problem.
When putting burgers and hotdogs on the grill, we encourage you to follow these steps:
• Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
• Never grill indoors — not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
• Make sure everyone stays away from the grill, including pets.
• Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
• Use long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
• Finally, never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
Beach safety is always important during the summertime, and year-round here in South Florida. But it is crucially important during particularly busy times like the upcoming holiday weekend. If you’re headed to the shore, here’s some advice:
• Swim sober and always swim with a buddy.
• Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
• Keep a close eye and constant attention on children (and adults) while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
• Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals can be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.
The most dangerous element of the Fourth of July holiday is, of course, fireworks. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals, and we strongly recommend avoiding personal fireworks this holiday. This is even more important in equestrian areas, since many horses are spooked by fireworks — which makes an already dangerous situation all the more dangerous.
Fireworks are quasi-legal in Florida. You can get them and possess them through loopholes in the law, but setting them off is illegal in most cases. If you’re caught, you could be charged with a misdemeanor. And if something goes wrong? That’s even more of a problem.
Nevertheless, many people insist on setting off their own fireworks. We recommend against it, but if you do:
• Never give fireworks to small children, and 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 one that doesn’t go off.
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
• Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
And here’s a tip for the rest of us:
• Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
Locally, there are a several options to consider for fireworks and other holiday celebrations.
Royal Palm Beach’s Star-Spangled Spectacular will be held Tuesday, July 4 at Royal Palm Beach Commons Park. The first event will be the annual children’s fishing tournament, hosted by the Royal Palm Beach Bassmasters starting a 6 a.m. The main celebration will begin at 1 p.m. and culminates with a professional fireworks display at 9 p.m. Aside from games, children’s activities and live entertainment, there will be an adult beach volleyball tournament for ages 18 and up starting at 10 a.m. The popular cornhole tournament is back and open to all ages, starting at 5 p.m. New this year is a ladder golf tournament, which kicks off at 3 p.m. The Food Truck Invasion starts at 1 p.m. The one event of the day not located at Commons Park is the Mayor’s Firecracker Golf Tournament, which will be held at the Village Golf Club starting at 8 a.m. To learn more, call (561) 790-5124 or visit www.royalpalmbeach.com.
In Wellington, the fun begins Tuesday, July 4 at the Wellington Aquatics Complex, where people can enjoy a patriotic pool party starting at noon. After the pool party, the activities will shift to Village Park on Pierson Road starting at 6 p.m. The celebration will include games, pony rides, face painting, a petting zoo, a performance by the band Studio 54, food trucks and a professional fireworks display. While parking is available at Village Park, it is expected to fill up quickly. A free shuttle service will provide transportation from the Mall at Wellington Green to the park from 5:15 p.m. until 10 p.m., after the fireworks show. The shuttle stop will be located at the bus stop outside of Nordstrom. For more information on the celebration in Wellington, call (561) 791-4000 or visit www.wellingtonfl.gov.