After a tough few months, everyone is ready for a big Fourth of July celebration. You want to finally feel free to have fun and socialize freely with others while enjoying a cold one and eating all the barbeque you can handle.
A safe Fourth will look a little different this year, but you can still have a good time as long as you follow the usual safety precautions and practice social distancing. Happily, being safe and having fun is completely doable.
Most states in the US allow individuals to buy and use their own fireworks. Three states limit fireworks to items such as sparklers and poppers, while three others, Delaware, Massachusetts and New Jersey, ban all fireworks.
No matter what the laws are in your state, you need to be careful when you or your children use legal fireworks. In 2017 alone, eight people died and more than 12,000 required medical attention due to firework injuries. They look magnificent but they can be deadly.
To stay safe when using these items, you should do the following:
- Never hold lit fireworks in your hands
- Don’t use them indoors
- Never light fireworks in a container
- Wear protective glasses or goggles
- Use only legal fireworks
- Light them well away from other people
- Keep a bucket of water close by in case of fire
- Soak used fireworks in water for several hours before throwing them away
Your five-year-old will beg to participate, but young children should never use fireworks. Even sparklers can cause extreme burns. Older children should be monitored whenever they use fireworks, in part because they are tempted to experiment with them.
To be completely safe, consider watching your city or town’s display from a distance. Let the professionals handle these explosive devices.
Holiday travel is notoriously dangerous. If you are planning to be on the road on or near the Fourth, practice safe driving. If possible, avoid travel on the actual day. Instead, leave a day or two early and consider staying overnight at a hotel or with a friend or relative. Also, follow these other tips:
- Leave the motorcycle at home. You will be more vulnerable to accidents on the Fourth if you ride one.
- Don’t tailgate. The roads may be packed, tempting you to follow too closely in order to maneuver around slower cars.
- Name a designated driver. You shouldn’t drive if you’ve been drinking at all.
- If you drive on the Fourth, leave home very early in the morning to avoid the worst traffic.
- Drive the speed limit to avoid accidents and tickets
- Do not use your cell phone while driving
Social Distancing/COVID-19 Protection
Even though the US is rapidly reopening, the number of COVID-19 cases are rising once more in a number of states. You are probably more than ready to resume “normal” life. Unfortunately, you still need to take care to protect your family and yourself. On this Fourth of July, you need to take the following precautions:
- Wear a mask. You still need to wear a mask, especially when you cannot stay six feet away from other people.
- Avoid crowds. If your city or town is hosting an event, you should skip it. Virus transmission is more likely when you are in close quarters with others for prolonged periods of time.
- Recreate outdoors. You still need to be careful when outdoors, but you are more likely to catch the virus while indoors, particularly in crowded quarters.
- Wash your hands frequently. This action is still one of the best ways to prevent illness.
- Avoid vulnerable people. That means you should still stay away from those with compromised immune systems and those over 65.
- You can enjoy the holiday by observing fireworks displays from the top of a hill or other private spot that lets you practice social distancing. Stick to hanging out with family members for the celebration.
- Use your phone or tablet to share your celebration with those vulnerable family members who can’t be with you in person. Let them see what you are doing so they don’t feel isolated.
This year is a good one to make new holiday traditions. Your family can share a unique meal, create a new game or find a special movie.
10 General Fourth of July Safety Tips
- Use fireworks safely. Keep children away from all fireworks, sparklers, etc. and keep all spectators at a safe distance of the explosive celebration! The best way to stay safe is to attend a community event where professionals are conducting the firework show. It is less risk of someone getting hurt, less time consuming, and less money being spent on your end.
- Drink responsibly. It is no doubt, a time to celebrate. However, police officers are on high alert during Fourth of July weekend to ensure drunk driving does not take place. Assign a designated driver or make sure you have nowhere else to be.
- Be safe around water. Whether you’re boating, swimming in a pool, or heading to the beach, being responsible around any bodies of water is important. Never swim alone. Never swim while under the influence of alcohol.
- Cover all outdoor food/beverages. You may not have thought twice about this, but Fourth of July parties that take place outdoors are a different party for bees, wasps, and other bugs. Keep your food as protected as possible so as to avoid any bug bites that can seriously harm someone!
- Apply sunscreen. You may not be swimming or tanning, but chances are the sun will be ablaze. Coat your kids and yourself with sunscreen to keep you safe from burns!
- Take proper camping precautions. Camping for the holiday weekend? Stock up on bug spray and proper clothing to keep you safe from what can attack in the wilderness (those tree branches will get you)!
- Drink plenty of water. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are outside all day. Did you know that the risk of heat-related illnesses is increased when partaking in sports or other strenuous activities? Alcohol consumption will also increase your likeliness to become dehydrated. Keep plenty of water around!
- Keep children away from campfires/grills. These sources of heat make for a great Fourth party (grilling and s’mores are the best), but they can also be very dangerous. Keep your kids away from these heat sources as best as possible.
- Don’t leave food/drinks out all day. The heat will surely take over your perfectly fresh food and create foodborne illnesses. The FDA recommends that food/drinks not be left out for more than one hour in 90°F heat or more than two hours in other hot temperatures.
- Simply, drive safely. It may seem like common sense advice, but getting to whatever festivity you’re attending doesn’t require that you be in a rush. Unsafe driving during a holiday weekend when many vehicles are on the road puts you and others at risk.
Fourth of July fireworks are a great way to kick off your summer with friends and loved ones. While some people like to take matters into their own hands, and plan their own firewoks display,according to Ohio’s Fireworks Law:
The law prohibits the sale and purchase of display and exhibitor fireworks, except by and to licensees. And only licensed professionals may legally discharge or explode them in the state. Out-of-state purchasers must transport them out of state, but the deadline for doing so is unclear.
In addition to legal issues, setting off your own fireworks could present many safety issues as well. Which is why we at FDS want to suggest checking out one of our local neighborhood’s fireworks this year.
The Fourth of July is one of the nation’s most exciting holidays. It has always been one of the most dangerous as well. This year, the danger is increased by the coronavirus. Remember, you need to take precautions to avoid becoming infected and/or spreading the virus. Practice social distancing, be careful with fireworks and avoid the road. Home is really the safest place to celebrate this year.
The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate our country with family and friends, sport the red, white, and blue, and enjoy the summer weather that comes with it. Make your holiday weekend memorable by staying safe during all of the festivities!