As friends and families gather this week for Independence Day, Parkridge Health System’s emergency department physicians are offering tips on how to celebrate responsibly and minimize the chances of a visit to the ER.
“Many of the medical emergencies commonly seen in emergency rooms during this holiday weekend – alcohol poisoning, food poisoning, firework-related injuries - can be avoided with common sense and proper precautions,” said Bryan Vance, M.D., emergency physician at Parkridge Medical Center. The following guidelines can help everyone enjoy the holiday safely:
- Practice fireworks safety.
Before you set off your displays, make sure fireworks can be discharged legally in your area. Only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer – the quality and safety of illegal fireworks cannot be assured. Only allow adults to light fireworks. Never hold lighted fireworks. Never allow young children to play with or go near fireworks, including sparklers. They may seem harmless, but the tip of a lit sparkler can reach temperatures close to 2,000°F. Finally, never play with fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Practice food safety.
Make sure to keep food items covered, and make sure everyone washes their hands before eating. Raw or undercooked meats can harbor illness-causing organisms like E. Coli and Salmonella, so it’s important to cook all meats to the recommended temperature and use separate long-handled utensils for each type of meat and sides. It’s also important to keep dishes heated/cooled to appropriate temperatures, and to minimize the amount of time food is left out in order to prevent growth of illness-causing bacteria.
- Be a responsible drinker.
Alcohol can lower people’s inhibitions and increase the risk of dangerous behaviors that could result in serious injury or death. Drink responsibly, and your keys to a designated driver or plan on taking a cab if you’ve been drinking.
“A little responsibility and use of good judgment will go a long way in ensuring a fun 4th of July celebration,” said Dr. Vance.