7 ways to have a healthy Fourth of July

Celebrate Independence Day without risking your health.
© Prevention // © Prevention

Sunshine! Barbecues! Fireworks! Who doesn't love a good July 4th celebration? Well, your hearing for one, and your stomach after your third helping of BBQ, and your skin if you leave off the SPF...See what we're getting at? The fun times of the 4th can be fraught with peril if you're not careful. But not to worry; we've got the best tips to make sure this is your best—safest!—Independence Day ever.

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1 of 9 Person celebrating the Fourth of July (R. Nelson/Getty Images)

Bring some earplugs

And no, we're not talking about using them to tune out cousin Barry. A new report from Loyola University Health System finds that the sounds of summer—such as fireworks and marching bands—can actually damage your hearing. In fact, fireworks have a sound decibel of 150, says Jyoti Bhayani, certified audiologist at Loyola University Health System's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, and ear protection is recommended for decibels above 85. When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the hair cells and nerve endings in the inner ear; so the longer (and closer) you’re exposed to loud noise, the more likely you are to permanently damage your hearing. Toss some plugs in your bag or use your hands to cover your ears in a pinch. 

More from Prevention: 6 Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss

2 of 9 Earplugs (PM Images/Getty Images)

Swim in clear water

Whether you're planning on making a splash at the beach, pool, or even lake, a good rule of thumb is to only dip into clear, good-smelling water. For lake goers, make sure there isn’t any blue-green algae, or slimy, smelly green film floating on the lake's surface. Some forms of this can produce a toxic bacteria (called cyanobacteria) that's bad news for your health. 

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3 of 9 Woman swimming in a pool (Rubberball/Getty Images)

Practice safe eating

Keep from throwing your diet to the (hot) dogs with our 10 perfect-portion plate ideas that show you cookout combos for 400 calories or less. If you're manning the grill, designate different plates for raw and cooked meat, and don't leave food out in the sun for more than two hours (one hour if the temps are high). 

4 of 9 Hot dogs on a grill (Anders Andersson/Getty Images)

SPF in advance

Applying your sunscreen a few days in advance—a couple times a day—means you can significantly improve your skin's protection from harmful rays. Just be sure not to buy into some of the more sketchy label claims. Here’s what your sunscreen label really promises.

5 of 9 Person applying sunscreen (Chris Fertnig/Getty Images)

Follow the heat & humidity rule

To keep from dehydrating, implement the 70/70 rule: When the temperature and humidity are both above 70, you enter the dehydration danger zone, says cradiologist Arthur Agatston, MD. Stay safe by sipping frequently from a water bottle, and drinking plenty of water before, during, and after activity.

More from Prevention: 3 Ways to Prevent Heat Illness

6 of 9 Woman drinking water (Fabrice Lerouge/Getty Images)

Alternate your alcohol

You’ll probably have a cocktail or two, and the safest way to consume them is to: (a) make sure you have plenty of food in your stomach, and (b) alternate each cocktail with a non-alcoholic beverage, like water or decaf soda to help stave off alcohol-induced dehydration. If you find H20 boring, add a bit of flavor with our popular Sassy Water recipe.

7 of 9 Poolside drinks (Michal Venera/Getty Images)

Protect your pet

If you're bringing Fido along, remember to apply pet sunblock every 3 to 4 hours to their least hair-covered spots, and use pet-friendly insect repellants. Find more ways to protect your pets with our Summer Pet Safety Tips. 

8 of 9 A dog and woman outside in the sun (Maria Teijeiro/Getty Images)