Sharecare Top 5: Tips for a Safe, Fun Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is a blast: What’s not to love about grilling, friends and fireworks? But if you’re not careful, minor mishaps can sideline your Independence Day celebration. Ensure your holiday is a happy one with these five tips for a fun, safe Fourth of July.

1. Danger-proof your grill.
Planning to fire up the grill this July 4? If you’re using propane, first check the tank for leaks, cracks, dents or corrosion. If you’re using charcoal, keep water handy to extinguish the hot coals. Always grill out in the open, away from structures that could catch fire – and light the match before turning on the gas! You should also take steps to reduce the cancer-causing substances on grilled meat, chicken and fish. Find out how in this video with Sharecare expert Samantha Heller, RD.

2. Be careful with bottle rockets.
Setting off your own fireworks can be good fun if you take smart precautious. Some sparklers, firecrackers and rockets can reach temperatures of up 1800°F, so make sure to point fireworks away from homes and trees, and soak any fireworks in water before throwing them away. Also be mindful of your pets: All that loud popping can frighten and disorient them. You’re best bet is to keep them inside with a TV or radio at normal volume to help dampen the boom.

3. Keep a lid on drinking.
Festive cocktails and cold beer are staples at backyard barbecues, but be careful how much you consume. Alcohol lowers your body’s tolerance for the heat and can dehydrate you more quickly in the sun, increasing your chances for heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Reduce your risk by drinking a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks, or skip the booze and make this delicious tropical smoothie punch.

4. Fight bugs naturally.
Friends and family aren’t the only ones showing up to your party this July 4. Mosquitos love a summer barbecue! Bug spray with DEET is an effective weapon, but there are also some great natural options. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, mix alcohol or carrier oil with essential plant oils: Lemon eucalyptus, cinnamon, citronella, lemongrass, clove and rosemary oils can send mosquitos packing. There are also a number of DEET-free repellants with natural ingredients available at drugstores.

5. Use real sunblock.
You know you need to use sun protection when you head outside, but are you using the right kind? Be sure you choose sunblock, not sunscreen. Most sunscreens (especially the SPF 15 facial moisturizers) only protect against UVB rays. That’s a good start – UVB rays can cause cancer and sunburns. But so do UVA rays, and sunblockprotects you from both types. Look for one labeled “broad spectrum” to be sure you’re covered.