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Five Ways To Stay Safe This Fourth of July

Summer is in full swing, and Fourth of July weekend is right around the corner. But while the upcoming holiday is great for grilling with friends, hanging out at the beach, watching fireworks or sailing in the San Francisco Bay, it's also important to be safe. This holiday has notoriously high accident rates, so it's a good idea to take some precautions in order to avoid car crashes, fireworks mishaps or other injuries.

Here are a few tips for staying safe and having fun this Independence Day weekend:

-Don't drink and drive. This one may sound obvious, but each year, a high percentage of car accidents on the Fourth of July are alcohol-related. If you're going to drink, make sure you have a designated driver, and stay away from operating boats and any other machinery as well as cars. Besides the fact that intoxicated driving puts yourself and others at risk, you can also expect law enforcement to be out in full force, both on land and sea, trying to crack down on violators.

-Don't light your own fireworks. Really. You don't need to Google "Fourth of July Fireworks Accidents" to know that emergency rooms fill up around July 4 because of fireworks. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that around 240 people go to the hospital with fireworks-related injuries every day in the month of July. Even if you've done it before, you know how to be safe, etc., fireworks are inherently unpredictable. It's always safer to watch a fireworks display put on by trained professionals from a healthy distance. And there's no shortage of fireworks shows in the Bay Area. Here's a list of options near you.

-If you live in one of these communities and you absolutely must light your own fireworks, here are a few suggestions: First, do not hold fireworks in hand when lighting the fuse, and do not empty the gunpowder or explosives from a premade firework to create a designer firework, thinking that you will make a better product. You won't, and it has the potential to be a disaster. Never go back and tinker with fireworks that haven't gone off. Make sure that when you light them, there is no part of your body hanging over the explosive. Always keep a bucket of water handy. For more on fireworks safety, check out these tips. And here's a list of the ten most dangerous fireworks out there.

-Be safe on the water. There are going to be a lot of people out in boats, kayaks, paddleboards, kite boards, surfboards and more. If you're in a smaller watercraft, it's a good idea to stick with a buddy and steer clear of wide-open waters. Staying closer to the shore will make you less vulnerable to larger boats cruising by.

-Don't' leave open fires unsupervised. It's easy to get wrapped up in your Fourth of July festivities and assume someone is looking out for the grill or fire pit when that's not actually the case. Always make sure someone is in charge of fires, and be deliberate about putting them out to avoid burning an unsuspecting child or adult. Moreover, it's of the utmost importance in this drought year to be conscientious and not do anything that could cause a wildfire.

Whether you're staying in town or going on vacation, we wish you a fun -- and very safe -- holiday weekend.

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