Plan Ahead For A Safe Family Fourth (260)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Fireworks, picnics, and swimming are all part of July Fourth fun, but these activities require careful thought when youngsters are involved, University of Tennessee professor said Wednesday.

 “There are a lot of safety issues that need to be emphasized around the Fourth of July,” Dr. Jan Allen of UT’s Child and Family Studies Department said. “These are really things parents should be thinking about all summer long, but the special events of the holiday bring them into sharper focus.”

 Allen said parents should pay particular attention to the following:

 Heat — Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside and re-applied after swimming. Children need “cooling off” periods in the house or in the shade on hot days, and should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids.

 Water safety — Make sure a parent or other adult is in charge of children in the water. “Never rely on an older child to supervise little children in water,” Allen said. Everyone should wear life vests when boating. “It’s important that parents set the example by wearing the vests themselves.”

 Fireworks — “Every year, more than 6,000 children under the age of 14 are treated for fireworks-related injuries,” she said. She suggested purchasing flashlights for children and encouraging them to design their own light shows, or creating non-flammable sparklers with sparkly cellophane.

While older youngsters may enjoy community fireworks displays, preschoolers may find them overwhelming, Allen said.

“It’s dark, it’s late at night, and the noise can be frightening. For many children under five, it’s just too loud,” she said.

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 Contact: Jan Allen (423-974-8911)