BULLETS IN THE AIR
In addition to the dangers of errant explosives, authorities are warning of errant bullets, all too common during South Florida celebrations.
Ignoring the pretty simple scientific explanation of what goes up must come down, people shooting off their guns on Independence Day are asking for trouble.
Brandon Reid knows. The 15-year-old was shot in the head in Miramar by a stray bullet after the Miami Heat won NBA Finals. He survived.
In the past, Miami’s police department and other city and county leaders have launched campaigns to curtail the celebratory shooting such as “No More Stray Bullets” and “One Bullet Kills the Party.” The latter had the support of Miami rapper Pitbull. And while celebratory gunfire incidents account for only 5 percent of stray bullet injuries, according to a 2012 UC Davis study, almost a third of the victims were children.
Independence Day also can be a headache than holiday for officers patrolling the roads.
Nearly 800 people were killed in vehicle accidents between 2007 and 2011 just on the Fourth of July, and more than half of those accidents were alcohol-related, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In 2012, Florida recorded 42 traffic deaths during the Fourth of July holiday period.
And while many civilians think to avoid DUIs, there’s the additional danger on the water of BUI — boating under the influence. Alcohol played a role in 17 percent of boating fatalities, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Those fatalities are just the damage done to humans, but doesn’t account for manatees, an endangered species in Florida. The Save the Manatee Club hopes to make more boaters aware of the sea-dwellers as the holiday approaches.
Patrick Rose, the organization’s executive director, admits that their latest effort — to have boaters carry signs indicating the presence of manatees — is entirely voluntary on the part of boaters and hasn’t directly been proven to reduce accidents in the past. But he hopes that those who participate make a least a small difference in reducing manatee deaths due to boat collisions, the leading human-related cause of manatee deaths according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“On the Fourth your day can go pretty rough, you’re going to need to keep hydrated, you might get tired. It might take extra effort to keep [boaters] aware,” said Rose, adding that “most boat owners are extra sympathetic to the manatee’s plight.”
Organizations are taking additional steps beyond just offering suggestions and tips, the Miami police set up a DUI checkpoint on the MacArthur Causeway, which connects the city with Miami Beach, and the county is offering the Tow to Go program, with AAA, through the weekend to give drunk drivers a free ride home and a tow for their vehicle.
In Broward, the sheriff’s office is teaming up with the Florida Highway Patrol to “saturate’ the highways to enforce traffic laws and crack down on DUI.
Even if South Floridians remain sober, buckle up and avoid igniting their homes and limbs, they still face the unseen threat of food poisoning. Gulp.
The Food and Drug Administration estimates that there are nearly 50 million cases of food-borne illness annually and the International Food Information Council adds that the summer is an especially dangerous time for chefs because bacteria spreads faster when food is cooked in warmer temperatures. To avoid yet another reason for a hospital trip or a rough Fifth of July, the USDA has some suggestions for preparing food. They include properly utilizing a meat thermometer, using clean utensils and ensuring that food is stored at proper temperatures. The main tip is to keep food out of the “danger zone,” which means keeping hot food above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cold food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
So if that potato salad feels warm ...