Have a safe Fourth of July

Record Observer - - Opinion -

As In­de­pen­dence Day ar­rives and swimming sea­son is in full swing, of­fi­cials are of­fer­ing tips for fire­works and wa­ter safety.

State Fire Mar­shal Brian S. Geraci is en­cour­ag­ing Mary­lan­ders to en­joy fire­works safely by at­tend­ing one of the many ap­proved public dis­plays.

Leave fire­works to the pro­fes­sion­als, he said in a press con­fer­ence Mon­day. Check the Mary­land state fire mar­shal web­site at www.mdsp. org/fire­mar­shal for listed public fire­works dis­plays through­out the state. In Queen Anne’s County, fire­works are planned for June 30 at Kent Nar­rows and on July 2 in Centreville. If you plan to buy and use fire­works: • Pur­chase the fire­works in the lo­ca­tion where you in­tend to dis­charge them. Check with the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity to de­ter­mine what fire­works are con­sid­ered le­gal for use in that area. • Read and fol­low la­bel warn­ings and in­struc­tions. • Do not al­low small chil­dren to use fire­works. • Do not con­sume al­co­holic bev­er­ages while us­ing fire­works. • Have a bucket of wa­ter or hose avail­able. • Fully ex­tin­guish re­mains of fire­works in wa­ter be­fore dis­posal. Al­ready this year, a pro­fes­sional fire­works shooter in sus­tained the par­tial am­pu­ta­tion of his left ring fin­ger in Har­ford County when the fire­work he was light­ing dis­charged at an in­cor­rect an­gle.

“Fire­works have been a long tra­di­tion of the 4th of July hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions. Please make safety your No. 1 pri­or­ity so ev­ery­one can en­joy the hol­i­day sea­son,” Geraci added. “By act­ing re­spon­si­bly, we can help elim­i­nate fire­works in­juries in Mary­land.”

For those who plan to swim at the beach, lo­cal wa­ter­ways or in pools, statis­tics show drown­ing is among the lead­ing causes of death for chil­dren.

On av­er­age, 10 peo­ple in the U.S. die ev­ery day from un­in­ten­tional drown­ing — 20 per­cent of them are chil­dren 14 or younger, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

A Red Cross sur­vey found that while 80 per­cent of Amer­i­cans said they could swim, only 56 per­cent of them could per­form all five of the ba­sic skills needed to save their lives in the wa­ter.

These wa­ter safety skills in­clude the abil­ity to: step or jump into the wa­ter over your head; re­turn to the sur­face and float or tread wa­ter for one minute; turn around in a com­plete cir­cle and find an exit; swim 25 yards to the exit; and exit from the wa­ter. In a pool, you must be able to exit with­out a lad­der.

Only four out of 10 par­ents of chil­dren ages 4 to 17 re­ported their child could per­form all five ba­sic swimming skills, yet 92 per­cent said their child is likely to par­tic­i­pate in wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties this sum­mer. The Red Cross of­fers these wa­ter safety tips: • Learn to swim and only swim in des­ig­nated ar­eas su­per­vised by life­guards. • Al­ways swim with a buddy; do not al­low any­one to swim alone. • Have young chil­dren or in­ex­pe­ri­enced swim­mers wear U.S. Coast Guard-ap­proved life jack­ets around wa­ter, but do not rely on life jack­ets alone.

• For a back­yard pool, have ap­pro­pri­ate equip­ment, such as reach­ing or throw­ing equip­ment, a cell­phone, life jack­ets, and a first aid kit.

• Never leave a young child unat­tended near wa­ter, and do not trust a child’s life to an­other child. Teach chil­dren to al­ways ask per­mis­sion to go near wa­ter. If a child is miss­ing, check the wa­ter first.

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