A day filled with fun and family can go downhill quickly if folks don’t conduct themselves in a safe manner, says one public official.
Surry County EMS Director John Shelton said an Independence Day celebration can turn into a tragedy, and on Monday he offered some advice to those celebrating.
“We see a lot of off-road vehicle accidents,” said Shelton.
Shelton said his department responds more frequently on the Fourth of July to four-wheeler, ATV and dirt bike accidents than on other days of the year. Those who do decide to hop on one of those vehicles and take it for a spin should wear the appropriate safety equipment.
Likewise, Shelton warned motorcycle traffic is heavier on Independence Day than on other days.
“We ask that motorists pay close attention for those on motorcycles,” added Shelton.
Another concern for Shelton is explosives. Though it doesn’t happen every year, he said EMS officials have been called to the scenes of backyard fireworks displays gone awry.
Shelton noted all fireworks or explosives should be handled by trained personnel, and children should not be permitted to play with such devices. Even a small explosive such as a firecracker can cause burns to the hand or the loss of a finger. Another common injury resulting from pyrotechnics are eye injuries.
Whether somebody is playing with sparklers, riding dirt bikes or working in their garden, Shelton said there is one sure threat to a person’s well-being on Tuesday — the heat.
With temperatures forecasted to be more than 80 degrees, folks spending time outside need to be cognizant of the heat, said Shelton.
“Stay well hydrated,” offered Shelton, adding that those doing any strenuous activities should take frequent breaks to cool down.
Another concern for officials is alcohol use on Independence Day.
“If you are going to drink, please don’t drive,” said Shelton.
In the end, Shelton said one piece of advice stands for all on the day Americans celebrate the nation’s independence.
“Don’t do anything that will negatively impact the fun time you plan to have,” concluded Shelton.
Sgt. Joshua Church, from the N.C. Highway Patrol, said he is certain not all people will follow the advice Shelton offered.
“It’ll be going on,” said Church of drinking and driving. “It does every Fourth.”
Church said his organization will have more troopers on duty in Stokes and Surry counties than it would on a normal Tuesday. There will also be checkpoints set up in the area throughout the day.
He added drunk driving isn’t the only concern for troopers. With people traveling for the holiday, traffic volume is heavier. Many of those folks are also in a hurry to get where they are going.
“It can be a recipe for disaster,” noted Church.
Church said if those who must travel follow a few basic rules and some common sense, the area might be able to make it through the holiday without a traffic fatality.
“Don’t drink and drive, don’t speed, and wear your seat belt,” cautioned Church.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.