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Bryan County Emergency Services wishes you a safe July 4
Freddy Howell

The sounds of summer, July 4th, Independence Day — children jumping into pools, burgers sizzling on the grill and fireworks lighting up the darkness as communities celebrate. Sadly, all too often these happy sounds have to compete with emergency sirens or are replaced with the noisy hustle of a local emergency room.
The members of our Bryan County Emergency Services hope that the July 4th safety issues discussed below (fireworks, drunk driving, and food poisoning) serve as reminders that help keep you and your loved ones safe throughout the holiday weekend.
• Fireworks
As detailed in its Fireworks Annual Report, the Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that 9,600 firework-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms during 2011. Notably, the CPSC also estimated that about 65 percent of all these injuries occurred between June 17 and July 17.
 In that selected period, 400 injuries involved children under age 5 and 1,200 involved children aged 5 to 14 with individuals under age 20 accounting for a total of 26 percent of the injuries in the focus month. Sparklers accounted for 1,100 firework injuries in the focus period
Absent a special permit, Georgia law only allows fireworks that fall into the category of “sparklers” (includes traditional sparklers, snakes, fountains, and glow worms). Use of illegal fireworks does occur and, regardless of legality, all fireworks should be treated with extreme care and larger devices are often best left to the professionals. If you do light fireworks, always keep water nearby, remove any dry leaves or other debris, and remember that what remains will remain hot for some time. Children should not be permitted to ignite fireworks.
• Drunk driving
July 4th is often celebrated by day-long parties, filled with food and drink. People can consume a large number of drinks. Individuals often underestimate how much they drink in such situations and greatly underestimate how impaired they have become by day’s end. In the five year span from 2007 to 2011, according to the NHTSA, a total of 780 people died in DUI accidents during the July 4th holidays.
If you plan to drink, plan for a designated driver. If you are the driver, don’t drink. Remember, as a recent ad campaign notes, “Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.” Use caution on the roads throughout the holiday weekend, keeping a watch for potentially intoxicated drivers and avoiding them whenever possible. Sober driving is even more crucial given the high traffic levels common on the holiday. Leave time for traffic-related delays.
• Food poisoning
During the summer we also need to thing about the dangers of foodborne bacteria, such as e. coli and salmonella. Cook meats fully, especially hamburgers given the increased risk of bacteria in ground beef, ideally using a food thermometer to monitor internal temperature. Do not leave “cold foods” sitting out and toss anything left out for more than two hours. More information can be found on the website.
As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Devoting a moment to safety can help ensure your celebrations are safe and your memories joyous. We wish you and yours a happy and safe Fourth of July. We also want to take a moment to thank all those, past and present, who have fought for our freedom and liberty. Thank you for your bravery and your sacrifice.

Freddy Howell is head of Bryan County Emergency Services.

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