4 Fourth of July Health and Safety Tips

JUNE 29, 2017
The 4th of July is a great time to celebrate with family and friends. Pharmacists can play an important role in educating families to stay healthy and safe during the holiday. Check out these 4 Fourth of July health and safety tips.

Avoid buying fireworks.
The American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that families should not buy fireworks for their own use due to the risk of serious adverse events including severe burns and death.1 Sparklers should also be avoided as they can burn at more than 1000°F and are responsible for 10% of fireworks related injuries.1 Educate families to attend community fireworks events coordinated by professionals.

Practice sun safety.
Educate patients on the importance of sun safety, as many 4th of July events begin before sunset. Advise families to select a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays with a sunscreen protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin at least 15 minutes before going outdoors and should be reapplied every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating.2 Keep in mind that the sun’s rays are at their strongest between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm. Avoid using sunscreen on infants younger than 6 months of age, as they are at greater risk of absorption of the chemicals from these products leading to more side effects.  Keep infants under 6 months out of the sun. Infants over 6 months of age can use broad-spectrum water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Recommend products that use the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as they may cause less irritation to their sensitive skin.2

Prevent Zika virus transmission.
Counsel patients who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to avoid traveling to areas with risk of Zika transmission.3 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contains a world map with travel advisories that is a great resource for pharmacists.3 Recommend that patients use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellent, as they are proven safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. The active ingredients can include DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.4 Evidence suggests that EPA-registered insect repellents that contain at least 20% DEET are the most effective against mosquitos, ticks, and other bugs.4 If sunscreen is being used, then it should be applied before insect repellent. Combination products containing sunscreen and repellent should be avoided.   

Properly store medications away from children.
The 4th of July is a popular occasion to host a party or travel to an exciting destination. Encourage parents to keep medications locked up and out of reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion and adverse events.  Keep guests’ purses and bags in a safe area away from children as they may contain medications.  When traveling, make sure to keep medications on a high shelf in the hotel room. Avoid keeping medications in suitcases on the floor.
Pharmacists can provide these safety tips to patients in the community and hospital setting for a healthy and safe 4th of July.

References
  1. Stay safe this 4th of July.  AAP website.  https://healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Stay-Safe-this-4th-of-July.aspx.  Accessed June 28, 2017.
  2. Sunscreen FAQs.  AAD website.  https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs.  Accessed June 28, 2017.
  3. Areas with risk of Zika.  CDC website.  https://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.  Accessed June 28, 2017.
  4. Zika virus.  CDC website.  https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html.  Accessed June 28, 2017.


Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriff’s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2
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