By Dr. Deanna Lites

DETROIT (WWJ) — Independence Day is associated with fireworks and barbecues, but both can be dangerous.

Burns are a big reason people end up in the hospital over the Fourth of July. In addition to fireworks, you can also hurt yourself lighting grills, fire pits and backyard torches. Seth Podolsky is an emergency physician at the Cleveland Clinic.

“Any burns or injuries to the mouth or the face, you want to call 911 — get evaluated immediately,” Podolsky. “If you reach and touch a hot object, or you brush up against something – more superficial burns — get away from the area. You can cool it in water and then sterile bandages before you go get evaluated by a physician.”

The combination of travel, alcohol and fireworks makes the Fourth of July the most dangerous holiday in the United States. The National Safety Council estimates that during the three-day break there will be more than 400 traffic deaths and around 50,000 people will sustain injuries requiring medical attention.

“Drivers always need to be vigilant, but this weekend, focus on the safety of your family,” president and CEO of the National Safety Council Deborah A.P. Hersman said. “A few precautions can help ensure a memorable weekend. Spending the holiday with family is preferable to spending time in the ER.”

The NSC recommends the following tips for traveling safely this holiday:

  • Buckle up. The Council estimates 155 lives will be saved during this period because seat belts are worn. An additional 99 lives could be saved if all buckled up.
  • Reduce your speed. More speeding-related fatalities occur during the summer months than any other time of year.
  • Refrain from using cell phones– hands-free or handheld – when driving. Drivers talking on cell phones are up to four times as likely to crash.
  • Place children in age-appropriate safety seats. Child restraints saved an estimated 284 lives in 2012 among children younger than 5.
  • Don’t drink and drive. If you do drink, designate a nondrinking driver or take an alternative form of transportation.
  • Stay engaged with your teens’ driving habits. An NSC survey found many parents are more inclined to loosen household driving rules during the summer.
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them with the new online resource, My Car Does What?

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