The 4th of July — it’s a time for Americans to celebrate their Independence from the British Empire and the birth of the United States of America.
Across the country, there will be millions of celebrations. Americans will celebrate their nation with fireworks displays, cookouts, parades, family gatherings, and so much more.
But it’s important to remember during this holiday season that safety should be at the forefront of your mind. According to some experts, Independence Day is the most dangerous and deadliest holiday weekend of the year. But why?
One factor is vehicle crashes due to an increase in traffic from family members traveling to gatherings. On average, there are 37% more highway fatalities on July 4 than the average July day.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, July 4 holds the record for being the deadliest in motor vehicle crash deaths from 2010 to 2014 with 592 deaths. And that’s only on the day itself — even more deaths occur on the surrounding days when people are traveling.
Another big part of why so many deaths occur from vehicle crashes during July 4 is because of drinking and driving. During the holiday weekend in 2012, the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes was six times the daily average.
In addition to vehicle crashes, another cause for concern is the fireworks displays that are a popular way to celebrate the holiday. In 2014, eight people died from fireworks accidents during the holiday and more than 7,000 people were injured. Since 2000, more than 110 people have died around this time of year from fireworks alone.
Though many believe that deaths and injuries related to fireworks are caused by direct contact with explosions, one of the major causes of death is house fires caused by fireworks debris that fall on homes. This is why many states require permits, insurance, and/or registered assistants or operators before you can legally set off fireworks.
It’s easy to see why July 4 is considered the most dangerous holiday, but don’t let the numbers scare you or prevent you from having a great time celebrating America’s independence. Instead, try these tips for staying safe this holiday weekend:
- If you are traveling, be sure to wear your seatbelt and secure children in their appropriate seats. Reduce your speed and distractions, like cell phones, as well.
- Obtain the proper permits and follow your state’s rules regarding fireworks to reduce the risk of accidental explosion or fire.
- Keep a safe distance from all fireworks displays — between 25 and 40 feet for fountains and ground-based fireworks, and between 75 and 100 yards for aerial displays.
- Always monitor children around fireworks, including sparklers and smoke bombs.
- Keep buckets of water, a water hose, or an extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.
- Don’t drink and drive! If you need a ride, call an Uber or taxi, use the National Directory of Designated Driver Services, or have yourself and your car taken home using AAA’s Tipsy Tow.
We hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!