By MCC

Independence Day is a celebration of the United States of America. The holiday is marked by fanfare and large parties, complete with barbecues, fireworks and parades. DeSoto County observes birthday number 243 with a downtown parade starting at 10 a.m/line-up beginning at 9. The Arcadia Moose Lodge also hosts an Independence Day barbecue starting at 10:30 a.m., which is open and runs $8, and fireworks at the Turner Center are scheduled to begin at dusk. Gates open at 5 p.m., with no outside fireworks or adult beverages allowed.

As fun as July 4th festivities typically are, injuries, particularly those involving fireworks, are a concern that celebrants should not take lightly. An estimated 11,000 people visited the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries in 2016, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, fireworks aren’t the only danger this time of year. In order to remain safe, individuals can heed these tips.

• Do not drink and drive. Alcohol consumption may accompany Independence Day festivities. For those planning on using a car to get to and from parties, it is essential to designate a driver who will not imbibe. Otherwise, utilize any number of ridesharing services or available taxis.

• Swim smartly. Always swim with a buddy, and consider hiring a lifeguard if you’ll be hosting a pool party and cannot keep a watchful eye on guests in the pool. Adults also should not swim intoxicated, as it can impede the ability to stay afloat and may lead to risky behaviors.

• Leave fireworks to the professionals. Watch a public fireworks display instead of lighting fireworks on the street or in the backyard.

• Exercise caution with sparklers. Kids running around with sparklers in hand could be a recipe for disaster, as sparklers burn extremely hot. Make sure children do not wave them around or others can get burned. Keep a bucket of water handy to properly extinguish the sparklers.

• Review safe boating practices. If July 4th festivities find you out on the water, be sure that life jackets are worn and set boating and water safety rules for the family.

• Check in with a vet. The Fourth of July can be traumatic for pets not accustomed to fireworks and other loud noises or crowds. Behavior therapy, medication and ensuring that pets do not run away from home and get lost may be necessary.

• Watch food temperatures. Do not leave food out in the hot sun for too long; otherwise, harmful bacteria can grow and potentially cause foodborne illnesses. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says to never leave food out of refrigeration for more than two hours. If the temperature is above 90, food should not be left out for more than one hour.

These are some of the safety strategies that can keep Independence Day celebrations both safe and enjoyable.

Did you know

In a recent survey conducted by topcashback.com, a cross-section of 1,828 adults, aged 18 and over were polled and found that 86 percent of Americans will be celebrating the holiday.

How we celebrate (top three responses)

Cookout, BBQ or picnic (72 percent)

Fireworks/community event (59 percent)

Shopping Independence Day sales (26 percent)

With cookouts, BBQs and picnics leading the poll, it’s no surprise that these are the top three favorite Fourth of July foods:

Hamburgers (30 percent)

BBQ (i.e. shish kabobs; 30 percent)

Hot dogs (10 percent)

How much Americans plan on spending for Fourth of July sales:

$51 to $100 (36 percent)

Less than $50 (29 percent)

$101 to $500 (29 percent)

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