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Fourth of July safety

Fourth of July. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/ Airman 1st Class Michael Smith)

Fourth of July. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/ Airman 1st Class Michael Smith)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 4th of July, in my humble patriotic opinion, is the best of all the holidays. The summer breeze, barbeque, and an ice cold can of your beverage of choice makes for an enjoyable weekend.

It isn't always that great for everyone though. Especially for the 10,300 people who receive injuries from fireworks or for the insurance companies who often pay almost $26 million in property damages each year.

Why am I telling you this?

I want you to pay attention to safety over this 4th of July weekend. Thinking is the very basic premise to being safe. Thinking about the following topics may very well help you prevent some unwanted injuries or costly property damages:

- Our recommended safest option is to leave the fireworks to the professionals
- Use extreme caution when handling fireworks and read the warning labels
- Observe local laws on the use of fireworks (is there a ban on them?)
- Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher handy in case of a malfunction or fire
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place
- Don't experiment with homemade fireworks
- Leave duds and short fuses alone

- If at the lake swimming, be sure to swim with others
- Swim in known safe areas and never dive into water when you don't know the depth or hazards below
- Know your physical abilities and limitations
- Don't mix alcohol and swimming

- Take a boating safety course if operating any kind of water craft
- Know state laws and check equipment before boating
- Complete an AETC Form 410 if participating in water sports or any kind of high risk activity as determined by Wing Safety or your Commander

- There will be a lot of people on the roads over the weekend; please keep your cool and drive defensively
- Plan your trip, whether driving out of town or going somewhere locally
- Be well rested if driving long distances
- Inspect your vehicle to include fluids and spare tire pressures
- Don't drive distracted!
- Remember that alcohol normally affects your judgment first, plan ahead
- Look out for motorcyclists and pedestrians

- When cooking out, keep cold foods cold, and hot foods hot at all times
- Clean preparation is essential, wash hands and work areas
- Use caution when lighting and using propane or charcoal grills