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Red Cross Issues Top 4th of July Safety Steps

"Everyone looks forward to having fun over the Fourth of July, and the Red Cross wants to make sure people know how to stay safe while enjoying the holiday," said Leslie Schaffer, Regional Executive for the Iowa Region of the Red Cross.

HIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. The Red Cross offers these five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:

• Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.

• Do not drink and drive.

• Pay full attention to the road - don't use a cell phone to call or text.

• Use caution in work zones.

• Clean the vehicle's lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.

FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting legal fireworks off at home:

• Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.

• Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.

• Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.

• Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."

• Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

• Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.

• Never grill indoors - not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.

• Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.

• Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.

• Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

"The Red Cross wants everyone to have fun this Fourth of July weekend, and we have ten ways people can stay safe while enjoying the water," said Schaffer.

• Learn to swim and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

• Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.

• Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.

• Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.

• Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.

• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.

• For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.

• Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers including four-sided fencing.

• Know how and when to call 9-1-1.

• Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child's life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. If a child is missing, check the water first.

FREE EMERGENCY APP People can download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive severe weather watches and warnings in their local area, at travel destinations and where loved ones live. "Family Safe" is a unique feature that allows app users to notify family and friends who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster. First Aid steps for situations such as heart attacks, heat-related emergencies and water safety information are also included. The content is available in English and Spanish. The app can be downloaded from app stores by searching for "American Red Cross" or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Since June 1, Iowa Region Red Cross volunteers have responded to 61 local disasters including flooding, tornadoes and home fires, and have assisted 70 Iowans with their immediate needs. If an individual or family has been displaced from their home due to fire, severe weather or another disaster, they can call their local Red Cross chapter:
Central Iowa: (515) 243-7681
Northeast Iowa: (563) 583-6451
North and Western Iowa (712) 252-4081
South and Eastern Iowa (319) 393-3500

For more updates, follow the American Red Cross serving Greater Iowa on Twitter at @GreaterIA_ARC and on Facebook at facebook.com/AmericanRedCrossIowa.

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