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Fireworks over BostonThis is Mass.Gov’s post for 2014. Click here for our 4th of July 2015 post.

In 1775, the first shots at Lexington and Concord were fired, marking the beginnings of the American Revolution. Today, Americans take time each year on July 4th to celebrate the birth of our nation and commemorate those who fought for our freedom. On this day of backyard barbecues, fireworks, and outdoor fun, remember to keep a few safety tips in mind:

  1. Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

Massachusetts law prohibits private citizens from using, selling, or possessing fireworks. Additionally, fireworks purchased legally elsewhere and then transported into the state are strictly prohibited. There are a variety of fireworks displays supervised by professionals to enjoy in Massachusetts instead.

  1. Keep Children Safe

Whether on the playground or at a campground, make sure children are supervised while celebrating outside during the holiday. Keep fireworks and sparklers out of reach of children at all times. Remove pieces of small toys, balloons, , and other items that may be potential choking hazards or dangerous to small children.

  1. Consume Alcohol Responsibly

Drive sober or get pulled over.  Establish a designated driver in advance to bring partygoers home from 4th of July festivities. Know your limits when drinking alcohol and don’t overindulge.

  1. Bring Sunscreen

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before participating in outdoor activities to reduce the risk for one of the most preventable types of cancer: skin cancer. Protect children from the sun by having them wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen, as well as suggesting they play in shaded areas. Consult your pediatrician before using sunscreen on infants.

  1. Review Safe Boating Practices

Heading out on the water is a great way to take in the spectacular summer weather and outdoor scenery that Massachusetts has to offer. Look over safe boating practices before embarking on your next trip. Remember to equip your boat with lifejackets in appropriate sizes and types for the intended wearers – even pets. Stay alert while navigating, and follow state boating laws by traveling at safe speeds.

  1. Check for Ticks

Protect yourself from tick-borne diseases including West Nile Virus and Lyme disease by knowing how to recognize ticks. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after being outdoors, especially in moist, wooded, or grassy areas, and be sure to perform a tick check. Use fine-tuned tweezers to remove ticks immediately. Keep backyards free from rotting leaves and damp grasses to eliminate potential breeding grounds.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids while spending time outside in the hot sun to avoid heat illness. Consumption of alcohol also causes dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water with any adult beverages. Keep cool by staying in the shade when possible. Look after pets, infants, and the elderly, all of whom are more susceptible to heat stroke.

Whether you’re celebrating the birth of our nation with barbecues or by camping with friends, follow these simple precautions for a safe holiday. Bring sunscreen, stay hydrated, and be mindful of outdoor creatures. Have a happy and healthy 4th of July!

How do you plan to celebrate our nation’s birthday safely? Leave us suggestions in the comments below or tweet us, @MassGov.

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