The 4th of July is a uniquely American celebration and a favorite holiday of many people. It’s a time when families and friends make plans to get together for picnics, barbecues and trips to the beach. For people near the coast, who have access to a boat, or a friend’s boat, sailing and hanging out on the dock is the perfect way to spend the day. Others enjoy trips to the mountains or major amusement parks. Most people plan in advance where they will be to watch fireworks displays and arrive early in the day to reserve a good spot. The plan for the day is eat, drink relax and do whatever makes you happy. Flags are flying, people are wearing red, white and blue and the atmosphere is festive.
On such a day, danger is not foremost in the mind of most people. However, in 2013 on July 2nd, the National Safety Council declared the 4th of July “The Most Dangerous Holiday of the Year”. In addition to injuries, and even some deaths as a result of encounters with fireworks, there are boat and traffic accidents, many of which are caused by drunk or impaired drivers. Most people are aware that traffic accidents increase during holiday periods, but it is not only on our highways where carnage can take place. On July 4th, 2014 in Miami, USA Today reported that a 32 foot boat carrying five young adults was racing back to the marina following a fireworks display when it crashed into another boat catapulting the pilot and one passenger overboard. Two other passengers were critically injured and unconscious. The boat circled with no one at the helm, eventually crashing into a third vessel. A brave soul from a salvage crew, risking life and limb, jumped aboard and was able to turn off the engine. The end result was four dead and eight injured.
It is estimated that fifty percent of the deaths on our highways on July 4th are alcohol related. People who normally drink very little may have over-indulged as part of their celebration, then think they have not really been affected, and proceed to get in their car and drive home. The results are disastrous, not only are their own lives in danger but also those of friends or family who may be passengers in the car. Other drivers on the highway are also at risk from the driver who is under the influence of alcohol. Families who lose loved ones due to drunk drivers have their lives torn apart and they will never be the same.
For recovering alcoholics, July 4th can be a difficult time indeed. The weather is usually warm, and there’s a lot of cold beer available. Everyone seems to be holding a hot dog or a hamburger in one hand and a beer in the other. No one denies how difficult it might be, but remaining sober will be its own reward at the end of the celebration. If you really think it will be too difficult to attend, perhaps make some alternate plans. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous chapters hold July 4th events and barbecues you can attend which are alcohol free.
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