Numbers can help with many life decisions. School ratings help parents pick a school district in which to live. Success rates for medical procedures influence care decisions. This table of hurricane probabilities may factor into the location of your next summer vacation. These charts, while admittedly less serious than childhood education or heath care, will ensure this Fourth of July party is your best yet.
1. What should I serve at my party?
Answer: Beer. The United States drank 217 bottles of beer per person in 2012, putting us at 14th worldwide behind the Czech Republic, Australia and Germany.
This weekend is our chance to gain the top spot, people. While we are out of the top 10 for bottles, the United States is in the top for countries that spend the most on beer per person. In 2012, the USA spent $356.20 per person on beer. In comparison, Australia spent $747.90 and Ireland spent $688.10. For type of beer, the data recommend Bud Light or Coors Light – the most popular American beers worldwide with 37 million and 25 million barrels sold in 2012, respectively.
... and watermelons. Watermelons are having a moment, according to data from the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Prices have fallen since January and the United States is entering peak production season for domestic watermelons. Meanwhile, the number of watermelons sold is going up because of summer dehydration. Watermelons are great for summer parties because they are rich in Vitamins A, B6 and C. Plus, one cup of diced watermelon is about 92 percent water.
2. Should I shoot off fireworks?
The good news on fireworks: Even though we are shooting off more balls of fire in our backyards, injuries are the same, meaning fireworks have become safer, or perhaps people are more cautious. Fireworks use in the United States increased from 41 million pounds in 1980 to more than 207.5 million pounds in 2012, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. In 2012, there were an estimated 11,400 injuries from fireworks treated in emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although this looks like an increase in the chart, with a 95 percent confidence interval, there actually hasn't been a statistically significant trend since 1998.
The bad news on fireworks: There's still a risk in shooting off fireworks, so proceed with caution, particularly around children. Children under age 15 accounted for nearly 40 percent of estimated injuries in 2013. Although small, there's also a risk of death. At least eight people died in 2013 while setting off fireworks. For the record, attempting to light fireworks with the cigarette you are smoking is a terrible idea. Read the fireworks report and the APA's fireworks guidelines for more safety information.
3. What music should I play?
Depends on where you are. Spotify, the online music streaming service, has two resources to help you play the best music possible at your Fourth of July party. In addition to possibly the best Independence Day playlist ever created (using data!), it tried to make a map of each state's favorite Fourth of July Song. After the data was analyzed, Spotify learned that the most popular song in 46 of 50 states is Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A." The map below shows the most distinctive favorite Fourth of July song for each state. To dig into the methodology that created this map, read this.
4. How should guests be transported to and from the party?
Fourth of July is not a good day to be on the road. The map above shows the crashes resulting in at least one death where there was "driver alcohol involvement" on July 4, 2012. That same year there were 9,169 crashes resulting in a death with driver alcohol involvement, averaging out to 25 per day. At 44 crashes, July Fourth was almost double normal rates. In comparison, there were 55 crashes on January 1, 2012.
Additionally, gas prices are at a high for this time of year, which is just more reason to stay off the roads this holiday.