Health hazards to avoid while you eat, grill, and light up the 4th of July

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As you’re getting ready to celebrate July 4th, doctors are getting ready for one of the busiest days of the year for emergency calls.

According to MedExpress Urgent Care, there’s a 14% increase in the number of patients on July 4th and they’re not all related to fireworks.

Fireworks casualty stats

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission

There are a number of holiday health hazards doctors want you to know about to avoid a trip to the emergency room. 

Food-borne illnesses, sunburns and grilling accidents are common around the fourth, said the staff at MedExpress.

Avoid stomach cramps by making sure to never leave perishable food items out in the sun for longer than two hours. Keeping your grill clean of any excess grease or dust can help prevent injuries from a grill fire.

The practitioners at Minute Clinic also report a significant increase in insect bites as more outdoor activities are planned around the holiday. 

When it comes to fireworks, Doctor Tom Waters at Cleveland Clinic urges you to seek care right away any time an injury occurs.

“Generally with fireworks, if you do sustain an injury, there’s a good chance that the damage may be deeper than it appears, so the best thing is to get to the emergency department and let a health professional check you out,” said Dr. Waters.

The most common firework-related accidents include injuries to the hands, eyes and face and even the ear drum from loud explosions. 

MORE: Not sure if the old fireworks in your stash are still safe? Check the recall list

Before shooting off those fireworks, avoid drinking any alcohol which can impair your judgment, said Dr. Waters. 

The Northeast Florida Safety Council offers the following guidelines for handling fireworks:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off 

Backyard fireworks displays are risky, because even if you’ve had years of practice, accidents can happen to anyone at any time.

Doctors stress the best way to stay safe is to just leave it to the pros and watch a public show like the Red, Hot and Boom 4th of July Celebration at the Landing.