9 Tips for a Safe Backyard Fourth of July Party

With fireworks, warm weather, and barbecue, the Fourth of July is decidedly an outdoor holiday. If you're hosting a party in your backyard this year, make sure you're staying safe for you and your guests. Practice caution around fireworks and the grill, make sure children are supervised in pools and on play equipment, and don't forget the sunscreen and bug spray. Have a safe, fun Fourth of July with these essential party tips.

  1. Practice safety at the grill: Never leave a grill unattended or place it too close to your home. Never put lighter fluid on a burning fire, and take care to make sure the flame doesn't get out of control. Make sure that hot grills are inaccessible to children and pets. Protect your hands and never use a grill in your home or even inside your garage, as it can build up deadly gas. Always soak coals in cold water and place them in a noncombustible metal can before you throw them away.
  2. Take care with fireworks: Fireworks are a fun part of Fourth of July celebrations, but they can be extremely dangerous. Always keep fireworks a safe distance away from your home, people, pets, and flammables including trees and shrubs. Never throw fireworks at people or pets. Only light one at a time, keep a bucket of water handy, and never try to relight duds. Require direct adult supervision for children using fireworks, and exercise caution when considering which fireworks to let children use.
  3. Stay safe in or near the pool: Children in pools should be directly and constantly supervised. Don't let a party distract you: you should always know where your children are when there is a pool in the backyard. Make a rule that no one swims alone so that every person -- child or adult -- always has someone watching out for them in the water. Avoid relying on float toys to keep kids safe. Remember that children can drown even with many adults nearby -- never assume someone else is watching. Exercise caution with adults who have been drinking before getting in the pool.
  4. Take precautions for pets: Often, pets, especially dogs, are frightened by the noise and lights of fireworks. Some panic, tearing up toys, beds, and anything else they can get their teeth on, while others run away in fear. Take care of your pets before the fireworks start. Keep them indoors and consider putting them in a quiet room. A compression vest for anxiety may help as well. If you're home, check in on them every now and then to reassure them that everything is OK.
  5. Supervise outdoor play: Keep an eye on children paying outside. Establish trampoline rules (one jumper at a time). Secure play sets and check the temperature of play equipment. Before the party, repair or replace damaged or worn play sets.
  6. Practice food and beverage safety: Don't invite bugs or food poisoning to your Fourth of July celebration. Keep food and beverages covered. Never leave food out too long outdoors, as it can reach unsafe temperatures and make guests sick. On a 90 degree day, potato salad can become unsafe in an hour or less.
  7. Be responsible with alcohol: If you're serving alcoholic beverages, take proper precautions. Make sure alcoholic beverages are inaccessible to children and pets. Keep an eye on guests to make sure they don't get out of control. And of course, make sure everyone has a safe ride home -- or offer a bed or couch for those who are unable to drive home safely right away.
  8. Wear and share sunscreen and bug spray: If you'll be out in the sun during your party, be sure to apply sunscreen before guests arrive and you forget to do it. Apply insect repellent before bugs have a chance to bite you as well. Be sure to leave sunscreen and bug spray out for guests so they'll also be protected.
  9. Drink plenty of fluids: The Fourth of July can get really hot. Don't forget to drink water and other clear liquids to avoid heat illness. Remember that alcohol can be dehydrating, so you may want to alternate with water or another beverage between alcoholic drinks.

Want more? Learn about 38 important backyard summer safety tips.

Photo by Flickr user md888