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Don’t let hidden dangers threaten your holiday weekend

Dr. Barbara Miller, a family medicine specialist at OU Physicians in Tulsa, explains how people can best protect themselves and their families during the Fourth of July weekend. 

“Probably the most important thing is using the fireworks according to the way they were meant to be used,” Miller said. “Make sure you are operating the fireworks in a clear state of mind. If you are inebriated, it’s probably not a wise thing to be shooting them off.”

Miller, who used to work at an emergency room in northwest Oklahoma, said it was very common to see injuries around July 4, particularly involving children. 

“Kids are going to be crazy around things that explode and burn, because that’s just the way they are,” Miller said. “Try to make sure that you are being very careful about supervising them appropriately.” 

According to Safe Kids Tulsa Area, an estimated 3,998 children ages 19 and under had injuries involving fireworks that resulted in trips to the emergency room in 2012. 

Safe Kids Tulsa Area warns people to leave fireworks to the professionals, but if you choose not to, be extra careful with sparklers, don’t wear loose clothes or set fireworks off inside and have a bucket of water nearby for emergencies.  

Miller said discussing stranger safety with kids before celebrating is just as important. 

“Make sure you know where your children are and that they know they need to be informing you of where they are,” Miller said. “Make sure that there are responsible adults that are paying attention to where they are and hopefully decreasing any risk of abductions or anything like that.”

Food problems can also put a damper on your holiday.

Meat should always be cooked to the appropriate temperature. Hotdogs should be fully cooked and hamburgers should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees when done or no pink in the middle.  

And cold foods can lead to trouble, too. 

“Usually whenever we have gatherings like that we leave things sit out for a long period of time,” Miller said. “It doesn’t take much for the environment of that food to be conducive to the overgrowth of bacteria. Perishable foods should only be out of the ice box long enough to dish it out and should be put back in the cold immediately.”  

Miller recommends utilizing an ice chest with bowls of food surrounded by ice.

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