Our Ridgeland personal injury lawyers urges everyone to celebrate the Fourth of July with safety in mind.

The Fourth of July is a proud day for all Americans to celebrate. Many observe the holiday with cookouts, get togethers with friends, boating trips and fireworks displays.

Unfortunately, so much emphasis is placed on celebrations that people tend to forget about safety, leading to a higher incidence of car crashes, fireworks injuries, boating accidents and even injuries sustained from grilling.

Dangerous Driving

The Fourth of July period is the deadliest time of the year on the nation’s roadways, with some 4,250 fatalities reported from 1975 to 2002, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

More motorists traveling longer distances in a concentrated period is part of the reason. Alcohol plays a role, too, with people consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel. In fact, 41 percent of crashes on July 4th are alcohol-related, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol reported seven people died and 58 sustained injuries over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in 2014, according to a Clarion-Ledger article. If you are injured in a traffic accident caused by another driver, talk to an experienced Mississippi car accident lawyer about your legal rights to recover compensation.

Avoid the Highway Blues

  • If you’re going on a long trip, consider leaving the day before the holiday travel period starts when roads won’t be as congested.
  • Make sure your vehicle receives a checkup from a certified mechanic and have the tires checked for wear and low air.
  • Put an emergency kit in the vehicle with plenty of water and snacks in case of a breakdown.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Put together a travel plan so you’ll know exactly where you’re going. Carry maps or a GPS to avoid getting lost.

Don’t Play with Water

Tens of thousands of Mississippians will be enjoying a weekend of boating on the state’s Gulf Coast, rivers and lakes this Fourth of July. That extra traffic means a greater chance for collisions and boating accidents.

Mississippi reported 41 boating accidents in 2013 and 13 related deaths, according to a U.S. Coast Guard report. The state has averaged 12 deaths annually from 2009 through 2013, the report shows, and 37 accidents a year.

The main causes of boating accidents are operator inattention and inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure. Alcohol use, however, is the primary contributor in boating deaths, and was a leading factor 16 percent of the time when the primary cause of the accident was known.

Tips for a Safe Weekend of Boating:

  • Only experienced boaters should drive the vessel.
  • Take plenty of water and snacks on the trip in case of an emergency.
  • Do not drink or use drugs when operating the boat.
  • Beware of other boaters and skiers to avoid collisions.

The Mississippi Department of Health encourages people to follow these rules when heading out on natural waters:

  • Check the local weather forecast and conditions before boating or swimming.
  • Wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets while boating, no matter the size of the boat, ability of swimmers or the distance you’re going.
  • Pay attention to colored beach warning flags and obey public beach signs.
  • Beware of dangerous waves and rip currents. Discolored or choppy water filled with foam or debris can be dangerous.

Fireworks Injuries

Mississippians have been setting off fireworks to recognize the nation’s independence for many years. But the laws covering the sale and shooting of consumer fireworks vary from city to city so it’s important for you to review the law in your local community.

Along with fireworks celebrations comes the risk of injury.

On average, 240 people go to emergency rooms each day around the Fourth of July for treatment of fireworks-related injuries. Most people visit for burns to the eyes, face and hands, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The agency encourages people to follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t let young children play with fireworks or light them.
  • Avoid purchasing fireworks in brown paper, which indicates they were made for professional use and could be dangerous for consumers.
  • Adults should closely supervise all fireworks activities, including the burning of sparklers, which reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees and can easily burn children.
  • Do not put your body directly over fireworks when lighting them. Ignite the fuse and quickly step away to a safe distance.
  • Don’t try to reignite duds. Douse them and dispose of them safely.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at a person and beware of others who are lighting fireworks.
  • Fill up a bucket of water or keep a hose handy to put out fireworks fires.
  • Once you are finished lighting fireworks, hose down the area and douse the spent devices before throwing them away.
  • Before buying fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area.

If you plan to stay home for the holiday this year, rather than travel to see family or go out on the lake, remember that holiday accidents can happen at home as well. Even grilling can be dangerous, so make sure gas grills are free of leaks and keep children away from the cooking area. Light up some burgers and dogs, then head to your community’s fireworks show in the evening. Have a safe and joyous Independence Day.

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