15 Safety Mistakes to Avoid This 4th of July

Because nothing kills a holiday like a trip to the ER.

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Millions of Americans will get together this week to celebrate our nation's birthday. We'll grill out, spend fun in the sun, and watch fireworks. But the Fourth of July can also be the . The estimates 164 people may die on the road between Tuesday evening and Wednesday night alone, and that's not including the swimming incidents and that also regularly claim lives. So, unless you're trying to qualify for a , be smart and follow these tips to stay safe while you celebrate.

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1 Trying to re-light a dud
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Just leave it. Seriously. Most fireworks injuries are caused by misuse or unexpected ignition. (So that dud may actually just have a slow fuse.) Wait at least 20 minutes before going near a failed firework. And, like all fireworks, place it in a bucket of water for at least 15 minutes — ideally overnight — before disposing of it in the trash.

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2 Dousing your camp fire or grill charcoal with gasoline
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Kaboom! When you're out of lighter fluid, just get some more. (Using too much lighter fluid is also a very bad idea.) And afterward, don't dump those old coals in the trash!

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3 Storing a propane tank in the trunk of your car
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Propane can be sensitive at high temperatures (i.e., it can explode). To transport it safely, keep it wedged upright in a box or other container. The tanks are built with a safety valve, which only works when the tank is vertical. Basically, you don't want it to roll around in your trunk! And if you're out running other errands at the same time, park your car in the shade or make sure the propane tank is the last stop on your list.

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4 Setting your picnic out all afternoon
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Bacteria thrives in temperatures from 40 to 140 degrees, so keep hot food on the grill and cold food in a cooler. After two hours, it's time to toss perishable food (one hour if the temperature's greater than 90 degrees).

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5 Writing with sparklers
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Sure, it looks really cool ... until the sparks fly and set your yard/hair/clothes/house on fire. Another bad move? Lighting more than one at once.

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6 Not supervising kids with sparklers
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Sparklers are a great alternative to big, loud fireworks. But just because they're a little tamer doesn't mean they can't be dangerous. Last year, sparklers caused more than alone. Even scarier? Unlike firecrackers, they burn slowly at temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees (so dispose of it in water!). To celebrate safely, keep a hose or bucket of water close by, and choose a clear area away from houses, leaves, spectators, and other flammable materials.

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7 Only using one grill tool
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Don't flip chicken legs and corn on the cob with the same prongs. Don't believe us? It's your stomach at risk of food poisoning, E. Coli, and a host of other hurt. The fix: Keep all raw meats and poultry totally separate from cooked foods and vegetables. Use different cooking tools for meat, poultry, and vegetables. And after grilling, don't place cooked meat back on the previous tray, because raw meat juices can transport bacteria to the grilled meats.

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8 Cleaning with a wire grill brush
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After your cookout is through, don't scrub off the grill with a wire bristle brush. The risk: The brush's wire bristles can break off, remain on the grill grate and end up in the food you're cooking. Once you eat it, they could potentially lodge in your stomach or intestines and cause major damage. We suggest using crumpled aluminum foil to scrub those grates!

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9 Drinking and driving
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Yes, this one should be obvious. But Independence Day is typically the deadliest day on the road for Americans, . (In 2016, involved an alcohol-impaired driver, the highest percentage of all major holidays.) And boat drivers, also beware: Alcohol use is the in fatal boating accidents. So, getting behind the wheel after several drinks seems like one of the absolute dumbest things to do this weekend.

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10 Making margaritas (or lemonade) on the deck
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During a backyard BBQ, be wary of squeezing limes, lemons, or other citrus outside. Getting fruit juice on your skin while the sun is beaming can result in a really nasty chemical burn. Phytophotodermatitis is a skin condition caused by the chemicals in some fruits and plants — namely limes, lemons, mango, and celery — that make your skin hypersensitive to sun and can often trigger a painful reaction.

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11 Taking your dog to watch fireworks
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. Loud noises can stress them out — and trigger their impulse to flee. And it's not just the noise: Fireworks are also accompanied by burning smells than can also be . The best way to protect them is to keep them away from where fireworks will be set off. When that's not an option, have a travel kennel where they feel safe or get them acclimated by playing recorded firework sounds for a couple months in advance, dog expert Cesar Milan.

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12 Leaving your dog in the car while you make a beer run
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At least 16 states preventing leaving pets in a hot car — and ignoring them . Car temperatures can reach 110 degrees even if it's only in the 60s outside, according to .

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13 Applying expired sunscreen
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Yes, that tube in your medicine cabinet from your trip to Hawaii may not be good anymore. The FDA says to — some sunscreen ingredients might become less effective over time.

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14 Forgetting your feet
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Don't be forced to do the real walk of shame. (We mean walking around with the evidence of your weekend forgetfulness all over your feet. Ouch!)

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15 Peeing in the pool
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First off, everybody hates that guy. Don't be that guy. But even worse? Dangerous chemicals form when pee or poop gets in the water and reacts with the chlorine, the reports: "These chemicals — not chlorine — can cause your eyes to get red and sting, make your nose run, and make you cough." Sounds like a great way to ruin a pool party.

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