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From the National Archives:

Make your Fourth of July BBQ extra special with these picnic-perfect recipes from Presidents and First Ladies!

(All the recipes can be found in Eating with Uncle Sam.)

Join us on July 4! The National Archives will be celebrating the Independence Day with a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, special musical guests, and fun family activities.

Celebrating American Inventions: The Deep Dive

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The 4th of July celebrates the birthday of our country, and allows us to take time to reflect on life, liberty and all the other great freedoms we have living here.  As part of that celebration, this week we’re highlighting some prominent inventions that have impacted all of our lives since the founding of our country.

We’ll highlight one invention from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We can’t cover every invention, so feel free to share other great inventions in the comments, and check back throughout the week to share how you’ve been impacted by the inventions we’ve selected.

The Submarine

Today, scientists use high-tech submarines to dive deep into the ocean and research underwater life. Tourists can take a submarine dive and visit underwater coral reefs. The military uses submarines to stealthily target the enemy with little to no detection.

But did you know all of this began with a wooden submarine named “Turtle,” first used in military action during the Revolutionary War?

David Bushnell, along with his brother Ezra, created the world’s first military submarine in Connecticut and launched it for the first time in 1776. The submarine they created featured ideas still used today, including the use of water as ballast for the craft, and the screw propeller.

Describing the Turtle, George Washington wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1785, “I then thought, and still think, that it was an effort of genius,” according to the Navy Department Library.

According to the Navy, during the actual Revolutionary War battle, Turtle didn’t fare as well as Bushnell hoped. Despite successful test runs (one of which Benjamin Franklin attended, according to reports!), Turtle’s attack did not succeed. Despite this hurdle, Turtle provided an invaluable ‘first draft’ of what would later develop into today’s submarine.

To hear from veterans of more recent wars about their experiences on a submarine, check out the Library of Congress’ video project, “The Silent Service.” Meet some of the Navy’s current submarine force, in this video from Inside Today’s Military.

Whether you’re watching fireworks or barbecuing with friends, make sure your own 4th of July celebration is safe and fun with these tips. And check the #july4 and #madeintheusa hashtags on Twitter to read about more American inventions this week.

Read this post in Spanish.

Are Fireworks Legal in Your State?

For many people, July 4th means fireworks. But before you use them, make sure they are permitted in your area and you know how to keep yourself and your friends and family safe.

Some states allow all or most types of consumer fireworks (formerly known as class C fireworks). These include shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets, sparklers, firecrackers with no more than 50 milligrams of powder, and novelty items, such as snakes, airplanes, ground spinners, helicopters, fountains, and party poppers.

Other states only allow novelty fireworks or ban fireworks completely.

This summary of regulations is accurate as of June 1, 2013:

  • Alabama - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Alaska - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Arizona - Allows only novelty fireworks.

  • Arkansas - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • California - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Colorado - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Connecticut - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Delaware - Bans all consumer fireworks.

  • District of Columbia - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Florida - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Georgia - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Hawaii - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Idaho - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Illinois - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Indiana - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Iowa - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Kansas - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Kentucky - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Louisiana - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Maine - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Maryland - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Massachusetts - Bans all consumer fireworks.

  • Michigan - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Minnesota - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Mississippi - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Missouri - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Montana - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Nebraska - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Nevada - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • New Hampshire - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • New Jersey - Bans all consumer fireworks.

  • New Mexico - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • New York - Bans all consumer fireworks.

  • North Carolina - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • North Dakota - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Ohio - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Oklahoma - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Oregon - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Pennsylvania - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Puerto Rico - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Rhode Island - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • South Carolina - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • South Dakota - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Tennessee - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Texas - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Utah - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Vermont - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Virginia - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Washington - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • West Virginia - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Wisconsin - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Wyoming - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

Learn more about fireworks safety and laws (PDF).

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It’s finally summer time! That means more sun, more time outdoors, more cookouts - and with Independence Day around the corner, no doubt you’ve got some great family barbeques planned. 
This summer, to be safe and healthy with your food, follow these tips:

If you’re cooking for a large group, follow the USDA’s seven steps to success (PDF). 


Everyone loves a good hotdog, but barbecues can cause unsafe food preparation. To prevent this, be sure to keep your grilling safe.


In the warmer weather, you might be doing more activities outside. If you’re hiking, camping, or boating (PDF), the USDA has guidelines for keeping food safe without limiting your summer outdoor fun!


When you’re super hungry after all of your summer activities, it can be hard to be patient for food to be completely cooked! FoodSafety.gov has a helpful guide to safe minimum cooking temperatures.

For more seasonal safety tips, visit the CDC’s page on Summertime Safety, and to learn more about food preparation, check out FoodSafety.Gov,  for Food Safety Myths Exposed!
Image by Foodsafety.gov

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It’s finally summer time! That means more sun, more time outdoors, more cookouts - and with Independence Day around the corner, no doubt you’ve got some great family barbeques planned.

This summer, to be safe and healthy with your food, follow these tips:

  • If you’re cooking for a large group, follow the USDA’s seven steps to success (PDF).

  • Everyone loves a good hotdog, but barbecues can cause unsafe food preparation. To prevent this, be sure to keep your grilling safe.

  • In the warmer weather, you might be doing more activities outside. If you’re hiking, camping, or boating (PDF), the USDA has guidelines for keeping food safe without limiting your summer outdoor fun!

  • When you’re super hungry after all of your summer activities, it can be hard to be patient for food to be completely cooked! FoodSafety.gov has a helpful guide to safe minimum cooking temperatures.

For more seasonal safety tips, visit the CDC’s page on Summertime Safety, and to learn more about food preparation, check out FoodSafety.Gov,  for Food Safety Myths Exposed!

Image by Foodsafety.gov

Firework Injury Stats and Safety Tips

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides advice on fireworks safety and statistics about fireworks injuries. If you plan to use fireworks this Fourth of July, read this first.

From the CPSC:

Fireworks Injuries

Fireworks. They are synonymous with our celebration of Independence Day. Yet, the thrill of fireworks can also bring pain, and even death. In 2011, CPSC staff conducted a study of fireworks injuries from June 17 to July 17. Here’s what we learned.

  • 200 people on average go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.
  • 65% of these fireworks injuries in 2011 occurred during the month surrounding July 4th.
  • Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in all 4 fireworks-related deaths reported to CPSC in 2011

Most Injured Body Parts

  • 46%: Hands and fingers
  • 17%: Eyes
  • 17%: Heads, faces, and ears
  • 5%: Trunk
  • 4%: Arms
  • 11%: Legs
  • More than half the injuries were burns.

Injuries by Fireworks Type

  • 17%: Sparklers
  • 14%: Reloadable Shells
  • 13%: Firecrackers
  • 7%: Roman Candles
  • 6%: Bottle Rockets
  • 6%: Novelties
  • 2%: Multiple Tubes
  • 1%: Fountains
  • 3%: Public Display
  • 29%: Unspecified

Injuries by Age

  • 40%: 25-44
  • 14%:45-64
  • 10%: 10-14
  • 10%: 15-19
  • 9%: 20-24
  • 9%: 5-9
  • 7%: 0-4
  • 1%: 65+

Injuries by Gender

  • 68%: male
  • 32%: female
  • Males were most injured from firecrackers, sparklers, bottle rockets, novelty devices, Roman candles, and reloadable shells.

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying our using them.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

Find more fireworks safety tips.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 2011 Fireworks Annual Report