Family. Friends. Barbecues. Fireworks. Oh, and a four-day weekend. That’s what we’re looking forward to this 4th of July. The celebration of our nation’s independence gives us the opportunity to reflect but also enjoy good food, splashing at the pool or beach, and explosive, colorful fireworks to wind down the day.
Whether you plan to celebrate in your backyard, at a park, on the beach or at a public pool, take a few moments to make safety part of your plans. Here are a few tips to make safety a part of your Independence Day celebration and keep your holiday safe and your memories good ones.
Swimming Pool Safety Tips
Nothing cools you off on a hot summer day better than taking a dip. Please have a safety system in place to protect those who use or go near your swimming pool.
Keep a watchful eye – never leave children or pets alone in or near the water. Be sure to teach them basic water safety tips and to stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.
Life preservers and other flotation devices should be available and kept near the pool. Any toys, both for children and for pets, should be kept away from the pool area to prevent children and pets from wandering away to reach them.
If you don’t have one already, consider installing a gate or fence to separate the pool from the rest of the house. If you do have one already, consider updating the latches and locking mechanisms to make it difficult for your child or pet to open it. They may have already figured it out from the last pool season.
Grilling Safety Tips
Don’t let your summertime fun go up in smoke by being careless about safety. While we can’t insure against taste or over/under-cooked food, we can recommend that your grill be kept at least 15 feet from any structure; that includes your home, shed, any deck railings, and out from under eaves or overhanging branches.
Avoid cooking on uneven surfaces and take it easy with the lighter fluid. Keep children and excited pets away from the grilling area. You’re the grill master – survey your domain and never leave the grill unattended without a worthy watcher in your stead.
Be sure to keep the area free of easily flammable objects and remove greasy buildup. When done, follow the ‘Stir, Sprinkle, Stir’ rule to extinguish the coals. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby at all times.
It’s not just toddlers with whom you have to exercise caution–not all pets enjoy the pretty explosions in the sky. Pets can act aggressively or injure themselves while trying to escape or find a place to hide during the booming light shows.
It’s important to watch for the following signs: trembling or shaking, sudden urination or defecation, pacing, chewing, digging, barking or howling. Even hiding or unusually clingy behavior can be signs that your fur baby is not enjoying the celebration.
As we mentioned in an earlier post, dog bites accounted for one-third of all homeowners’ liability insurance claims. The 4th of July celebration combined with the presence of guests in the home can add to your pet’s distress.
Try creating a safe haven for your pet where they can retreat when feeling overwhelmed or threatened – it can be a roomy closet, their crate, or in the owners' bedroom. Make sure they have plenty of food and water or their favorite blanket and toys. Some pets even have a favorite television program, so consider having it playing in order to drown out the bombasts of the holiday.
You can find other pet safety tips along with a list of popular Jersey Shore fireworks displays in this article from Purr’n Pooch.
Firework Safety Tips
Fireworks are a great way to celebrate the holiday, but they can be dangerous. Leave lighting them to the pros. Inexperience with fireworks is an easy way to get burned or worse.
In the weeks around July 4, an average 200 people a day go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And 20,000 house fires are caused by fireworks per year, resulting in $32,000,000 in property damage.
If you do use home fireworks, the National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these safety tips:
- Don't allow young children to handle or use fireworks; teens should always be closely supervised.
- Never use fireworks indoors.
- Always have water ready to douse a fire.
- Know your fireworks. Read the caution label before igniting.
- Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
- Alcohol and fireworks never mix.
- Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.
- Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s, to the fire or police department.
When using sparklers:
- Always remain standing.
- Never hold a child in your arms.
- Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
- Never throw sparklers.
- Sparkler wire and sticks remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.
- Teach children not to wave sparklers or run while holding them.
If you accidentally injure your neighbor while setting off your fireworks, your homeowners' insurance should include coverage for their medical expenses. Most home policies offer limits ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. And if your neighbor sues you, your policy should include liability coverage. Most policies offer limits ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 but if you need more coverage, you can buy an umbrella policy, which can offer limits of $1,000,000 and more.
If your house is damaged or burns down as a result of the fireworks, (and assuming it wasn’t intentional and fireworks aren’t illegal to possess or set off) your home policy should provide coverage for this. It’s a good idea to review the coverage included in your policy.
- How much is your home insured for?
- How much are your detached buildings such as sheds and garages insured for?
- Do you have enough coverage to fully repair or rebuild if needed?
These are the types of questions that your independent insurance agent from would be more than happy to answer for you.
Enjoy these simple guidelines and common sense tips. The Ross Maghan Agency wishes you a happy and safe holiday.