Enjoy the 4th - safely

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The American traditions of camping, cookouts, and of course fireworks celebrate the summer season, especially our nation's birthday on the Fourth of July. However, each of these activities can turn from a joyful celebration into a painful memory when children or adults are injured. The 27th Fighter Wing Safety Office is providing some common sense practices to keep your Independence Day events safer and more fun.

A family camping trip can be an enjoyable experience if you are prepared. Knowing our limits, taking the time to plan ahead, and packing the right items will help your adventure go off without a hitch. The key is to make sure you are comfortable and capable in the outdoors; the way to do that is take day trips to get used to that type of environment. Here is a good tip, travel first with other experienced campers. There are many different factors when it comes to knowing your limits, the biggest ones are the amount of endurance your body has and of course climate changes. When packing for a camping trip, make sure you have a map of the area, proper clothing, first-aid-kit and enough food and water for the duration of trip.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports about 25 people die and hundreds suffer from Carbon Monoxide poisoning each year when people burn charcoal in enclosed areas. Place your grill in an open area out doors away from buildings, shrubbery, dry vegetation and out of the way of pedestrian traffic. Use starter fluids designated for your grill, never ever use gasoline or other flammables. A good reminder for gas grills is to have your igniter ready when the gas is turned on to prevent a flash burn or explosion. Lastly, never leave any grill unattended.

To make sure your juicy meats are ready to eat, here are a few temperatures you need to remember from the United States Department of Agriculture: 160 degrees for beef and pork, 165 degrees for poultry and 145 degrees for fish. The four key recommendations to help you keep friends and family safe from food-borne illness during the summer are to clean hands, separate foods, cook and chill. An ice chest is a valuable tool at all summer outings not only for transporting food and drink; but it plays a critical role in reducing food-borne illness. Proper picnic items should be packed in a cooler with enough ice or freezer packs to keep temperature inside at 40 degrees or below. Play it safe by putting leftovers and perishables back on ice after your meal.

While fireworks and the 4th of July are synonymous, outdoor fires and injuries are closely associated with this holiday tradition. According to the National Fire Protection Association, on Independence Day in a typical year fireworks cause more reported outdoor fires in the United States than all other outdoor causes combined. If you are planning to use fireworks make sure that they are legal in your area. One of the biggest causes of fires associated with fireworks is people light them on or near grass which is never supposed to be done. Children enjoy fireworks due to the colors, sights, sounds and are naturally drawn to them. Supervise your children at all times around these hazardous items. As with any event you need to have access to a fire extinguisher. If you don't have access to a fire extinguisher your second line of defense is to have a bucket of water in case a small fire does start. Make sure you are a safe distance away after lighting the fireworks. If a devise doesn't ignite, never go to investigate, just put it out with water and dispose of it. The U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Data Center estimates that more than 6,000 fires and $8 million in damage to both property and personal injury are caused by improper use of fireworks. The individual use of fireworks on Cannon, including Military Family Housing, is prohibited. The installation commander, on a case-by-case basis may authorize fireworks for special
functions and situations, per Air Force Instruction 32-2001, Cannon Air Force Base Supplement 1.

As with any major holiday, the 4th of July is no stranger to its share of alcohol-related fatalities. Thirty-nine percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide last year were alcohol related. Yet during last year's 4th of July holiday, traffic fatalities that involved alcohol accounted for 48 percent of the total number of traffic fatalities during the weekend, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This 4th of July make responsible decisions while enjoying y holiday events. If you plan to consume alcohol, have a designated driver before going out and give that person your keys. Death and injuries from motor vehicle crashes can be prevented. The number one obvious way is to not drink and drive! Always have a plan!

Play, but play safe. Learn from yours and others experiences and do the things that help avoid getting injured or worse. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself, family, and friends. Independence Day is a cherished tradition, this year lets make it the Safest! Happy 4th of July Cannon!