Have a Happy (and Safe) Fourth of July

Independence Day, a/k/a the Fourth of July, combines many of the things we love about summer into one day-long (or weekend-long, or week-long if you're really lucky) celebration. Maybe it's a day at the pool or the lake or the beach; maybe it's a backyard cookout with friends and family; maybe it's sparklers at dusk, or going to town to watch a full-blown fireworks show when the sun goes down.

However you plan to celebrate this year, we hope you will take a minute to review these safety tips so that your Fourth will be memorable for all the right reasons...and not the wrong ones.

Heat Safety

It's Alabama, so you know it's going to be hot. Be prepared by knowing the signs of heat-related illnesses, and taking the following steps to prevent them in the first place:

  • Drink more fluids.
  • Seek shade or stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Never leave people or pets in a parked vehicle.

Of course, one great way to keep cool on a hot day is to go swimming! If you're planning to spend your day in the water, review the safety tips below with your family and friends.

Swimming Safety

For children ages 1-14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death. For those who survive, drowning injuries can lead to long-term disabilities such as memory problems and loss of basic functioning.

Safe Swimming for Children

  • Educate children about the rules of water safety.
  • Don't allow children to swim without adult supervision.
  • If you're supervising swimming children, stay alert. Don't get distracted by playing on your phone, reading, or other activities.

The ADPH Injury Prevention Branch has more information about keeping kids safe in and around the water. 

Safe Swimming for Teens and Adults

Anyone can drown, including experienced teen and adult swimmers. There are many contributing factors when it comes to teen and adult drownings:

  • A tendency to over-estimate their abilities, and to underestimate water conditions.
  • The use of alcohol, drugs, or medications.
  • Lack of life jackets.

Teens and adults should follow the same core rule children are taught: never swim alone. For this age group, add: never swim impaired.

Learn more at Drowning Prevention

Beach Safety

The best way to protect yourself from the power of the ocean is to be aware of the local weather, surf, and tide forecasts. Check with local news and weather outlets for the latest information. You can also check the links at the National Weather Service to get updates on just about any beach in the United States.

The following video from the National Weather Service has information and tips about rip currents and other hazards that beach goers may encounter. 

Boating Safety

According to the National Safety Council, there are almost 12 million recreational vessels registered in the United States. It's a good bet most of those will be on the water for the Fourth of July. If you're planning to get on a boat, make sure you follow these tips to help ensure a safe ride:

  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Make sure everyone onboard has a properly-fitted life jacket.
  • Take note of the weather and get off the water if you notice storm clouds, increases in wind speeds, or other signs of bad weather.
  • Be familiar with the boating laws and "rules of the road" such as right-of-way on the water.

For more information, including how to prepare before you get on a boat, and safety tips for water skiers and tubers, visit the National Safety Council.

Sun & Skin Safety

Whether it's on a boat or a beach, by the pool or by the grill, be sure to take steps to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., but it's also one of the most preventable. A few simple steps can help you avoid long-term damage to your health:

  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every hour if you are swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays, and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible, especially between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Learn more from the ADPH Cancer Prevention & Control Division

Food Prep Safety

Before you fire up the grill, please take 45 seconds to review these vital safety tips for preventing foodborne illness.

Visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for more details. 


There's no better way to cap off an epic Fourth than with an equally epic fireworks show. While it's strongly recommended that you leave the fireworks displays to the professionals, a lot of people find it hard to resist the opportunity to set off a few fireworks of your own.

According to the National Safety Council, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including house and vehicle fires. The most recent data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows a 25% increase in fireworks-related injuries between 2006 and 2021. In 2022, over 10,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks injuries, and 11 people lost their lives due to fireworks injuries.

If fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, follow these safety tips:

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of malfunction or fire.

Find more safety tips at ADPH Injury Prevention

Have a happy --- and above all, SAFE --- Fourth of July!