Keep safety in mind on Independence Day

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Ah, the 4th of July: in my humble, patriotic opinion, the best of all holidays. Good weather, greasy barbeque and a couple of adult beverages make for an enjoyable weekend.

However, it isn't always that great - especially for the 9,300 people who usually receive injuries from fireworks, or the insurance companies who often pay almost $23 million in property damages or even the occasional spike in mishap rates for some people around this time.

Why am I telling you this? I want you to pay attention to the safety aspect of this 4th of July holiday. Following a few of these simple safety tips may very well help you prevent some unwanted injuries or costly property damages:

- Use extreme caution when handling fireworks and read the warning labels
- Don't drink while handling explosives!
- 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
- If at the lake, be cautious of where you are swimming
- Never dive into water that you don't know how deep it is or what is under the water
- Take a boating safety course if operating any kind of water craft
- Complete an Air Education and Training Command Form 410 if participating in water sports or any kind of high-risk activity as determined by wing safety or your commander
- When cooking out, keep cold foods cold, and hot foods hot at all times
- Never reuse marinades that have come in contact with raw meat
- Clean preparation is essential, wash hands and work areas
- Use caution when lighting and using propane or charcoal grills
- There will be a lot of traffic on the roads this holiday. Keep your cool and drive defensively
- Plan your trip, whether driving out of town or close to home
- Be well rested if driving long distances
- Inspect your vehicle to include tire pressure
- Don't drink and drive, call someone if you need a ride
- Look out for motorcyclists and pedestrians
- Lastly, if you are involved in ANY mishap, report it on an AETC Form 435