Make Independence Day a Time to Focus on Safety

by | Jun 23, 2015 | Personal Injury

Our Oklahoma City personal injury attorneys list tips to keep safe during Independence Day festivities.
People take time off to celebrate the nation’s birthday with cookouts, get-togethers with family and friends, swimming, boating, picnicking, and enjoying fireworks displays.

Many Oklahomans travel by car and pickup to their Independence Day gatherings. It’s important to be aware that Independence Day is the most deadly holiday travel periods of the year for Americans on the road. An analysis of accident data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that 134 people die each year on average in July 4 traffic accidents based on data from 2007 to 2011.

According to the most recent Oklahoma Highway Safety Office crash data, the July 4 holiday claimed two lives in 2013 and four lives in 2012. An average of 4.4 people were killed annually in Oklahoma during the period from 2000 through 2013.

There are a number of simple safety precautions that you can take that may make a big difference in the outcome if a traffic accident occurs

  • First and foremost, wear a seat belt and insist that all passengers buckle up. Seat belts save lives.
  • Don’t be in a rush. Obey the speed limit.
  • Drive when rested and alert
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones. Focus on the task of driving.
  • Stop frequently on longer trips and switch drivers.
  • Respect other motorists.
  • Drive defensively and try to anticipate potentially hazardous situations before they occur.
  • Have a designated driver if your holiday celebration includes drinking alcohol.
  • Carry a disaster supplies kit and pack snacks for an emergency.
  • In case of car trouble, pull as far off the highway as possible.

Swimming season

Children across Oklahoma love to hit the pools when summer arrives. Yet not all children are prepared to deal with the danger of being around water.

Nationwide, 174 children between ages 1 and 14 drowned in pools and spas from Memorial Day through Labor Day in 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported.

Drowning is the main cause of death for children 1 to 4 in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. More than half of drownings or near-drownings among those under 5 happen in home swimming pools and 25 percent occur in bathtubs.

Pool safety

  • Always supervise children in or near water, including those who know how to swim.
  • Avoid distractions. During pool parties, make one person a “water watcher,” taking turns with adults.
  • Keep a phone at hand for emergencies.
  • Take your children to swimming lessons to reduce the risk of drowning.
  • Learn to give child and infant CPR.

Fireworks precautions

Shooting fireworks to celebrate Independence Day is an American tradition, but fireworks can cause serious injury if not handled properly and because of safety issues, some communities including Oklahoma City ban residential fireworks displays.

Consumer fireworks are sold in the days leading up to the holiday. But Oklahoma law prohibits the sale of certain fireworks including bottle rockets, stick rockets, cherry bombs and M-80s, according to the Oklahoma Fire Marshall’s Office.

Check local ordinances to find out if it is legal to shoot fireworks.

  • Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman, Moore, Yukon, Del City and Midwest City all ban residential fireworks over the Fourth of July, according to a com article.
  • Fireworks are allowed July 1-3 between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. in Choctaw and on July 4 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
  • Guthrie allows residents to purchase a $15 permit to shoot fireworks on personal property of 5 acres or more.
  • Okarche permits fireworks shooting July 3-5 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Follow these safety guidelines by the National Council on Fireworks Safety:

  • Abide by local laws and ordinances for fireworks use.
  • Read labels and performance descriptions for lighting fireworks.
  • All fireworks activities should be supervised by a responsible adult.
  • Avoid shooting fireworks after consuming alcohol.
  • Use safety glasses when igniting fireworks to protect your eyes.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Light fireworks only in a clear, outdoor area.
  • Do not try to relight “dud” fireworks. If they don’t light, wait 20 minutes and soak them in water.
  • Keep a water hose and bucket of water handy.
  • Avoid experimenting with fireworks or making homemade fireworks.

Boating safety

Oklahoma has 38 state lakes and recreation areas and they are patrolled by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Marine Enforcement Division.

Any person 12 to 15 years old must have a boater education card issued by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to operate a boat or personal water craft over 10 horsepower or a sailboat 16 feet or longer. The course can be taken online

Oklahoma Highway Patrol authorities patrol the state’s lakes and waterways and check to make sure youngsters operating boats have a boater education card. Even so, adults hold the responsibility for safe boating and passing on those precautions to young boaters.

Follow these tips by

  • Avoid consuming alcohol or other drugs that could impair your ability to operate a boat.
  • Make sure everyone on the boat is wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. All vessels in Oklahoma are required to carry one wearable flotation device for every person, and all kids under 13 must wear one at all times.
  • Before hitting the lake, check local weather reports to avoid inclement weather.
  • Put together a boating plan and give the information to a friend, letting them know who is going, where you’re going and when you will return.

Celebrating the nation’s independence is one of the most enjoyable times of the year in Oklahoma. Make sure the time you spend with family and friends provides great memories. Remember, most accidents are preventable, so take precautions to avoid tragedy.

If you have been seriously injured in a July 4 accident caused by another motorist or boater, talk with an experienced Oklahoma car accident lawyer about your rights to compensation.