This Thursday, Americans across the country will be celebrating the Fourth of July with friends, family, food and fireworks. Some people will use the holiday as an opportunity to stay in town and relax, while others will take the time to travel. No matter what your plans, BBB is here to prepare you for a smart and safe Independence Day. Keep the following tips in mind when planning your Fourth of July festivities:
It is estimated that a record breaking 49 million Americans will be traveling this week, with July 3 being the busiest day of all. If you’re one of these people, make your journey as smooth as possible by traveling prepared.
Inspect your car. While nearly 4 million people will be taking to the skies to get to their destination, it’s expected that 41 million people will be hitting the road. To ensure you get to your destination without a hitch, inspect your car for any problems that may arise during a long drive. Checking your engine coolant, battery life and tire pressure is a great place to start.
Map your route. Knowing where you are going ahead of your travels—whether it’s to the airport or your final destination—will save you from distracted driving while you are on the road. Either print out to have your directions for a designated passenger to direct you or input the address into your navigation before your drive. If you’re traveling alone, always pull off the highway if you need to check or edit your directions.
Book hotels through their direct sites. While the draw of a great deal on a third-party site can be tempting, it may not be a legitimate reservation. If you’re planning on staying in a hotel, go straight to the source to book and call ahead to confirm your reservation with the hotel.
Retailers love an excuse to draw customers in, and the Fourth of July holiday is no exception. Whether you are shopping online or in-store, you are likely to find Independence Day deals at every turn. Before you make your purchase, consider the following:
Limited time offer. Limited time offers are meant to instill a sense of urgency in the consumer, putting pressure on them to make a purchase. However, just because it is a limited time deal does not mean it’s the best deal the retailer offers. Do your research to see if that retailer has historically offered the same or better deals throughout the year. If you don’t need to make your purchase immediately, you may want to wait for another sale to emerge.
Lowest price. Not all deals are what they seem. Sometimes the lowest price advertised is a part of a bundled deal or only available to certain customers. Always read the fine print for these offers and speak with an employee to confirm the price. At the store and realize there is a better price for the same item online? Ask a sales associate if they offer price matching. Some retailers will match competitors’ prices if it means they’ll ultimately get the sale. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Shop with a credit card. If you decide to make a purchase, especially online, always make sure you use a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, paying with a credit card ensures money is not taken directly from your pocket and has additional protections a debit card does not. Generally, you get the best liability protection when you use a credit card.
For the festivities themselves, you want to make sure you have a fun time while keeping those around you safe.
Follow local rules. If you are planning on setting off fireworks, having a barbecue or enjoying a bonfire this Fourth of July, make sure it is legal in the area you’re planning on being in. Rules change from place to place and could include bans within specific city limits or require permits. And always ensure you know how to properly extinguish your bonfire and how to safely set off your fireworks.
Keep an eye on the grill. Grilling plays a major role in Independence Day festivities. While you want to make sure your food is cooked to perfection, you also want to make sure that nothing goes awry in the process. Always have one person in charge of the grill at all times and never leave a grill unattended. It’s also best to make the grilling area a “no play zone” for children.
Keep pets safe. July 5 is the busiest day of the year for U.S. Animal shelters. The boom of fireworks can startle scared pets, causing them to run away or hide. To ensure the comfort and safety of your pets, make sure they are secured at home where they feel safest. If you are planning on taking your pet out with you, make sure they have a collar and easy to read tag with your contact information in case they get lost.
For more tips, visit bbb.org. And from all of us a BBB serving the Heart of Texas, have a safe and happy Independence Day!