The Fourth of July is approaching, and with it will come parades, parties, and fireworks. But before you dive headfirst into this year’s festivities, you should understand some of the inherent dangers that come with the holiday.
To help Americans celebrating their independence take the necessary safety precautions, our team has compiled a report of the safest and most dangerous states on the Fourth of July.
Our team looked at two of the most prevalent dangers on the Fourth of July: wildfires and impaired driving. Our data analyst then ranked the safest and most dangerous states according to those risk factors.
The Fourth of July weekend is one of the most dangerous weekends of the year for drivers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the holiday was the second-deadliest day of the year for drivers between 2012 and 2016.1
Unfortunately, the combination of long weekend road trips, driving to and from parties, and fully stocked coolers means there will be more impaired drivers on the road.
While you might avoid driving intoxicated yourself, you can’t make that decision for others. And unfortunately, impaired drivers are a danger to other drivers as much as to themselves.
As you might expect, the inundation of consumer fireworks on the hottest month of the year is less than ideal for fire safety. Fireworks are the hallmark of the Fourth, yet they can be incredibly hazardous if used incorrectly without proper consideration and care.
Even a simple sparkler generates enough heat to melt glass, let alone start an unwanted fire.
It turns out where you live makes a huge difference regarding the danger you might face on the Fourth of July. A handful of states seem to go through the holiday with only a fraction of the average risk for wildfires and impaired driving deaths. On the other hand, if you find yourself in one of the most dangerous states on our list, you might want to enter the holiday weekend with a little extra precaution.
|10 Most Dangerous States on the Fourth of July||10 Safest States on the Fourth of July|
|1. Oklahoma||1. Delaware|
|2. Idaho||2. Illinois|
|3. Kansas||3. Wisconsin|
|4. Washington||4. Indiana|
|5. California||5. West Virginia|
|6. Arizona||6. Maryland|
|7. Nevada||7. Ohio|
|8. Oregon||8. Maine|
|9. Wyoming||9. Rhode Island|
|10. Tennessee||10. Michigan|
|10 Safest States on the Fourth of July|
|5. West Virginia|
|9. Rhode Island|
The most dangerous states
Oklahoma found itself at the top of the most dangerous list due to its extremely high risk for wildfires during the Fourth of July. The Sooner State more than doubles the second-most dangerous state, Idaho, in acres burned per 10,000. Not only that, but Oklahoma also ranked in the top half of states for impaired driving deaths.
The next most dangerous states were Idaho and Kansas. Like Oklahoma, these states ranked high for both impaired driving deaths and wildfires.
Washington, however, was a bit of an outlier on the most dangerous list. Despite having one of the lowest risks for impaired driving deaths, its high risk for fires kept it in the top half of our most dangerous states.
The safest states
If you find yourself in Delaware or Illinois this Fourth of July, you can take comfort in the fact that there’s virtually no risk for wildfires in your state. You won’t have to worry much about wildfires in Wisconsin, Indiana, or West Virginia, either. These states also ranked in the bottom half for impaired driving deaths, meaning the roads might be a little safer as you move through your weekend festivities. But you’ll still want to use caution driving on the Fourth, especially at night.
How to stay safe on the Fourth of July
Enjoy fireworks responsibly
While fun, fireworks are also quite dangerous. Not only can they cause serious injuries, but in the right circumstances they can also start fires. That’s why it’s recommended you leave it up to the professionals. If you do choose to use consumer fireworks on the Fourth, there are a few things you can do to minimize the risk for injuries and unwanted fires:
- Find a wide-open fireproof surface
- Never use homemade fireworks
- Know what to expect from each firework you ignite
- Keep a charged hose and a bucket of water nearby
- Soak used fireworks in water before disposing
- Always have a sober adult supervising
Safe driving tips
Unfortunately there are bound to be impaired drivers on the Fourth. You might be the safest driver around, but you can’t control the decisions of other drivers sharing the road. That said, the only sure bet to avoid accidents is to avoid driving altogether. But if you’re spending the Fourth on a road trip, or if you’re traveling between events and parties, use the following tips to maximize your safety on the road:
- Plan ahead to limit driving time on the Fourth
- If possible, avoid driving late at night
- Wear your seatbelt
- Anticipate mistakes by other drivers
- Keep a safe distance from other cars
- Approach intersections with caution
- Don’t drink and drive—period
Whether you find yourself in one of the safest or most dangerous states on our list, it’s important to understand the inherent risks that come with the Fourth of July. With a little extra planning, you can still enjoy the holiday without putting yourself or your loved ones in unnecessary danger.
If you want to know where your state ranked, take a look at our full list below.
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “General Statistics”