The Fourth of July is just ahead, a time when people typically enjoy the summer holiday with backyard barbecues, fireworks or water fun. But this year, celebrating Independence Day will be different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.
The American Red Cross offers safety tips for the holiday observance.
“If your community is reopening, it’s important to know which safety measures to take as you venture out in public,” said Lori Arnold, executive director for the Greater Arkansas chapter of the American Red Cross. “Follow these coronavirus precautions.”
• People should continue to social distance by staying 6 feet away from others, especially if they are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (over age 65 or any age with underlying medical conditions).
• Continue to wear cloth face coverings in public. Face coverings are most essential when social distancing is difficult.
• Follow guidelines for the area when it comes to how large gatherings can be. Avoid crowds and mass gatherings.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
• People should stay home if they are sick.
Many public fireworks shows are canceled this summer to avoid holding events where large crowds will gather. If someone plans to use their own fireworks, check first if it is legal in the area.
• Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
• Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
• Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
• Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
Grilling fires spark more than 10,000 home fires on average each year in the U.S. To avoid this:
• Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
• Never grill indoors — not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
• Make sure everyone, stays away from the grill, including children and pets.
• Keep the grill away from the house or anything that could catch fire.
• Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.
Warmer weather means enjoying the water. Be “water smart,” have swimming skills and know how to help others. This includes home pools — where young children are most at risk of drowning — and open water, such as ponds, rivers and lakes — where people are more likely to drown than any other location. With less access to lifeguarded aquatic facilities this summer, some may consider open water environments that are not designated for swimming.
• Talk to children, including older youth and teenagers, about water safety. A variety of resources are available at redcross.org/watersafety and redcross.org/watersafetyforkids.
• If the family goes to the water, make sure the area is designated for swimming and has lifeguards on duty. Once there, maintain social distancing, both in and out of the water, between one’s family and people who don’t live with them.
• Wear face coverings on land, especially when physical distancing is difficult. Do not wear them in the water as it may be difficult to breathe. Don’t share goggles, nose clips, snorkels or other personal items.
• Designate a water watcher whose sole responsibility is to supervise people during any in-water activity until the next person takes over supervising duties.
• Kiddie or inflatable pools can be a great way to have fun. Drain the water from the pool and flip it over after swim time is over.