Experts say that the Fourth of July is the most dangerous holiday weekend of the year for Americans—car crashes and swimming accidents are common, and fireworks are an additional holiday hazard. If you're planning on celebrating this Fourth of July, this is what you should take into consideration.
1.) Pools and hot tubs need special protection.
You can end up with some unexpected problems if you have a pool or a hot tub. Add a little alcohol into the mix, and exuberant guests can end up injuring themselves or others by falling into the pool or slipping on water spills. Make sure that you let guests know that there's no diving allowed and that nobody is allowed to be around the pool or hot tub without slip-proof sandals. Also, make it clear that no one is to be in the pool or hot tub alone, to reduce the risk of drowning.
You also want to make sure that pools and hot tubs are properly maintained before you allow guests to use them. Make sure that you've recently had the water cleaned and chemically treated. This reduces the chance that your guests will contract any type of infection from the water. If a guest gets infected with a recreational water illness through contact with untreated water, like giardia or shigella, you could be held legally responsible for his or her medical care and lost wages.
2.) Leave the fireworks to the professionals to handle.
There are plenty of free fireworks shows every Fourth of July—and way too many risks associated with handling them yourself, especially if you're having a party. If you host a party that involves fireworks, you're accepting liability for any injuries that result from their use.
Keep in mind that even fireworks that are often thought of as relatively "safe" can be dangerous. Sparklers, which many people remember fondly from childhood, can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and are responsible for 1/3 of all fireworks injuries in children under 5.
3.) Insist on designated drivers and watch the bar.
If you have alcohol at your Fourth of the July party, insist that anyone planning on driving forgo the drinks. Otherwise, you may be considered negligently responsible for any car accidents they have on the way home. Another option is to call a rideshare service or cab for obviously inebriated guests—or just put them up for the night in your home.
Also, keep your eye on the bar (or beer cooler) if you have guests who aren't legal to drink. If you serve alcohol to a minor (or turn a blind eye when one helps himself or herself to a beer), social host liability laws say that you would be responsible if that minor gets hurt or injures someone. In addition, you could face criminal charges for providing alcohol to a minor.
Taking a few steps to protect yourself can help make your Fourth of July celebration a safe and happy event. If an accident does happen, however, talk to personal injury attorneys in your area about the situation.