From all the press releases and notices that come to a reporter's inbox, you would think all humans lose self control on Independence Day.
Just about every day for the last few weeks one press release after another gives the impression we unnecessarily place ourselves in danger or lack common sense during the Fourth of July. This is the time of year when news agencies can't wait to share video of firework safety videos shows what happens when a dummy sits still while fireworks buzz around their face.
We forget how to drive, how to cook, how to supervise our kids and why buying illegal fireworks is bad.
Here are a few reminders passed along to Patch from various agencies and organizations:
• National Coalition for Safer Roads found that in Florida, the Fourth of July travel period ranked the riskiest for red-light running with 39 percent more violations occurring during this period than during the lowest ranked holiday period in 2011 (Christmas).
• One in six Americans get food-born illnesses and the numbers surge during the summer months, especially with those hamburgers on the grill, so several federal agencies are teaming up to remind you to clean the grill and wash your hands, separate your raw and cooked meats, cook to to the right temperature using a food thermometer and don't leave food at rood temperature for more than two hours.
• If you're going to play with fireworks, they're illegal in Florida if they can fly or launch off the ground. If you're caught, they will be confiscated and carry up to a $1,000 fine or an arrest
• Sarasota County Government reminds us that in 2010, an estimated 8,600 people were sent to the emergency room across the U.S. for fireworks-related injuries.
• You might have forgot that since Memorial Day that you're not suppose to drink and drive. AAA provides a program so you can drive, then drink, but not drive back. Gold Coast Eagle Distributing is sponsoring the Tow to Go program from AAA July 4-7. The program provides a free towing service and a ride home to prevent drunk driving. Drivers who would like to use the program can call 800-AAA-HELP (800-222-4357).
• Florida Highway Patrol stepped up patrol for unsafe drivers during the weekend and through 8 a.m. July 5. The release didn't specifically mention drunken drivers, which will of course be targeted, but wanted to reduce the number of crashes due to the volume of traffic on the busy holiday. People forget how to drive during the holidays, too.
• The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that last year in Florida two kids between the ages of 0 and 14 drowned in pools from June 30 to July 6. Parents and guardians should watch over the little ones and keep pool parties and celebrations under control and well supervised to prevent child drownings. Keep them away from pool drains, pipes and other openings. Nationally in 2011, there were 25 drownings involving children younger than 15 during the same time period.
Of course, these warnings are given because statistics prove that during Independence Day, these situations arise and surge more than usual. It's a stretch, but I guess I can deduce that we are statistically more stupid when we celebrate our nation's independence.
Myself included where many of years in Maryland I would fail to plan properly for the Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield and end up there with either a five mile walk along a road parked full of cars before I reached the battlefield to watch the fireworks or when me and some friends arrived, we neglected to bring food or sunblock. Or the time where I had too much fun at a friend's bon fire and took a bite (OK, chunk) into the chocolate cake decorated with icing like a hamburger, hadling it like an actual hamburger. My stomach didn't appreciate that one.
So now that we've shared these helpful tips, please don't lose your arm, barf from a bad hamburger (or too much hamburger cake) or worse.
And Happy Fourth of July, 'merica. Time to light the grill with a sparkler.