Play it safe on Independence Day

DOH offers best practices to stay healthy and safe this summer


Fourth of July is just around the corner, with warmer weather, open beaches, barbecues, fireworks – and the potential for accidents or worse. But a little bit of planning and common sense can ensure everyone enjoys the Northwest’s unofficial start of summer safely and in good health.

“Summer is a time to relax, but not the time to let your guard down,” said Andrew Rose, assistant secretary for operations at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). “By staying alert and taking the time to plan ahead, you can make sure your fun times stay fun for your family, your friends, and the people around you.”

Follow these tips for a healthy, fun, and safe summer:

  • Prevent fireworks injuries. Fireworks are not legal in many Washington jurisdictions. But if your community allows them, make sure you use them responsibly. That means not firing them in areas with dry vegetation or other flammables, and away from buildings. Keep water or a fire extinguisher handy and ensure a responsible adult is in charge.
  • Practice water safetyMost Washington rivers, lakes, and saltwater beaches have not had a chance to warm up. Cold water can cause hypothermia or shock, which can lead to accidental drowning. Always supervise young children near water, no matter how deep. Check to see which beaches are safe for swimming before you head to the water.

    If you are boating or practicing water sports, wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest, regardless of your swimming ability. Rivers are also running strong with snowmelt, making them more dangerous and colder.
  • Follow food safety tips. If you plan a cookout or picnic, follow basic food safety practices to prevent foodborne illnesses like salmonella or listeria. Always wash your hands with soap and water before cooking and serving, and clean surfaces and utensils before use.
  • Check the forecast to beat the heat. Several areas of the state will see high temperatures this weekend and over the holiday. Extreme heat can lead to dehydration, exhaustion, injury, and death. Infants, older people, and persons with health conditions are especially at risk. Wear loose, breathable clothing, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, and stay in the shade. A sunscreen with high UV protection is a good precaution. Learn more about heat safety.
  • Protect yourself from pests. Insects are more than a nuisance this time of year. Mosquitos can carry diseases like West Nile Virus and encephalitis. Tick-borne diseases are less common in Washington but still a risk. To minimize potential exposure, wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and a hat when going into wetlands or woods. Insect repellents can help prevent bites.

For more information to help you stay safe and healthy, visit DOH’s website.

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Editors' Note: This press release from the Washington State Department of Health was sent to the JOLT on June 29, 2023.


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