The Fourth of July weekend is arguably one of the most fun occasions of the year. There are so many great specials to watch on television, tasty recipes to try, crafts to make and gatherings to attend during the festivities. While it’s wonderful to feel carefree and euphoric, it’s also important to practice good judgment to make sure that the day is as enjoyable as possible. Here are some suggestions for making the most of this patriot holiday.

Don’t Drink and Drive

It goes without saying – since it’s illegal every other day of the year – but it can be really tempting to enjoy some drinks during a fireworks display or have spiked watermelon at a cookout and then get behind the wheel of your car. It’s only a few blocks, right?  Wrong. So many serious and fatal accidents happen mere feet from someone’s home. Even if you don’t care about your own safety, remember that there are other people and families sharing the road with you.

Respect the Weather

If the weatherman is predicting torrential rains and flash floods it might be worth playing it safe and planning an indoor activity. Getting stuck in the middle of a large crowd during a storm is not worth the risk. The same is true if the forecast calls for extreme heat. The last thing you want is to make a trip to the emergency because someone has heat stroke or worse.

Practice Food Safety

One of the best parts of the Fourth of July is the food. Many people have cookouts in their backyard and, often, guests will bring dishes for a delicious pot luck-style meal. Make sure that you keep an eye on how long food has been left sitting out because, after two hours, your chances of contracting a food-borne illness increases dramatically. It’s also not a bad idea to have sanitizer on the table so that everyone has clean hands before they serve themselves.

Defend Against Critters

Being outside feels so liberating but remember to be mindful that you are sharing the space with insects in their natural habitat. Bug repellant and long sleeves/pants can help to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes which can spread West Nile virus. Also make sure that you keep an eye out for ticks which can burrow in your skin, leading you to develop Lyme Disease.

Avoid Confrontations

This might seem like odd advice but any time people crowd into an area, tempers can run high. You, or those around you, could be hot, irritable, thirsty, tired or tipsy (or all of the above) which can be a recipe for disaster. Remember that, while it’s been fun, it probably has been a long day for everyone and it’s not worth engaging in an argument. You might feel like blowing a fuse but it’s a good idea to keep your cool.

Happy Fourth of July to everyone! Have a safe and wonderful weekend!