Holiday safety tips from DHHS

Posted By: Channel 8 Eyewitness News

Lincoln – The summer heat, the smell of something delicious on the grill, and the sound of fireworks can only mean one thing: It’s the Fourth of July. Before your family celebrates, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services wants you to be aware of these safety tips.

Fireworks Safety
Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but they can also be dangerous. According to the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office, 204 people visited the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries June 25-July 5, 2016. 
To enjoy fireworks safely, follow these tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Always have a responsible adult supervise fireworks activities.
  • Do not let young children light or play with fireworks.
  • Light fireworks one at a time and then quickly move back to a safe area.
  • Don’t point fireworks or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water and/or a garden hose nearby whenever you light fireworks.
  • Don’t try to relight a “dud” firework that has not fully ignited.
  • Don’t shoot off fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • Dispose of used fireworks by soaking them with plenty of water before you throw them away.

Grilling Safety
On the Fourth of July, many people fire up their grills and treat their guests to hamburgers. 
Many people also mistakenly believe the color of the inside of their burger – whether it’s pink or brown – lets them know if it is safe to eat. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Studies by the United States Department of Agriculture have found that one out of every four hamburgers turns brown before it has actually reached a safe internal temperature of 160°F. For that reason, the USDA says using a meat thermometer is the only way to make sure your cooked meat is safe to eat.

Use a meat thermometer and follow these other safety tips from the USDA to grill safely:

  • Clean all of your work surfaces, utensils and hands with soap and water before cooking.
  • Use separate plates and utensils for raw meat. Do not use these plates and utensils for cooked meat or ready-to-eat-foods like raw vegetables.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to the right temperature. Remember that hamburgers should be cooked to 160°F. Find safe cooking temperatures for other foods on the USDA’s website –
  • Chill or refrigerate leftovers quickly.
  • Don’t leave food out at room temperature for longer than two hours (or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90° F).
  • Bring a cooler to store leftovers if you are away from home.

Swimming Safety
July is one of the hottest months of the year so many families turn to water activities to beat the heat. However, even fun water activities have serious risks if proper precautions aren’t taken.

Follow these safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stay safe in the water:

  • Have a responsible adult supervise children swimming or playing in or around water.
  • Always have children swim with a buddy.
  • When possible, select swimming sites that have lifeguards.
  • Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. According to the CDC, in the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Remember that air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices. They are toys, not life jackets. They aren’t designed to keep swimmers safe.
  • Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

Outdoor Safety 
Many Nebraskans spend their Fourth of July holiday outside. When you are enjoying the summer weather, remember to protect yourself from the sun and bug bites.

Follow these safety tips to enjoy your time outdoors:

  • Use sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 and has UVA and UVB protection. For the best sun protection, apply sunscreen liberally 30 minutes before you go outdoors. And reapply your sunscreen throughout the day, especially after swimming.
  • Use bug spray.  Repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
  • Do frequent tick checks after being outdoors.
  • Drink lots of water and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid alcohol and limit drinks with caffeine.
  • Do not leave children or pets in parked cars.