We know everyone would like to get together to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, especially now that so many community fireworks events have been cancelled. The temptation to celebrate with a huge family cookout or neighborhood block party sounds great after months of social distancing.
This year, however, consider a quieter celebration. Rather than risk crowds, stay home. Grilling at home is always an option. If you do meet others in small groups outdoors, be sure to bring your own food and utensils, wear your masks and clean your hands frequently. We know COVID-19 spreads most in community settings where people are in close contact, like a picnic or a party.
Normally, we would suggest going to a community-sponsored fireworks show. This year, most large fireworks displays have been cancelled.
Instead of fireworks, consider other ways of showing your patriotic cheer: Blow soap bubbles, spray silly string or toss cascarones, water balloons or streamers.
There are also outdoor games like croquet, bocce ball, horseshoes and cornhole, all of which can be played safely if you are careful about sanitizing between turns and keeping your distance among players. These are much safer than playing with fire.
If you feel the show must go on and you have purchased your own fireworks, please take precautions when using them at home. Children can be especially vulnerable to firework-related injuries because most parents do not consider the safety risks associated with seemingly harmless fireworks, like sparklers.
“Sparklers, which are often considered safe for small children, can burn up to temperatures of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the same heat as from a blow torch,” said Dr. Lilian Liao, pediatric trauma and burn director at University Hospital. “They can not only cause serious injuries to kids, but can also be a fire hazard."
If you choose to use fireworks this week, here are some important safety tips to remember:
- A responsible adult should supervise children at all times.
- Never mix alcohol and fireworks. Save that drink for later.
- Never relight a firework that doesn’t go off.
- Always have a bucket of water and water hose nearby.
- Use fireworks in an outdoor area away from buildings.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
And remember—if someone does suffer a firework-related injury or burn it’s important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
We want everyone to enjoy the holiday, but this Fourth, try to resist the temptation to gather with large groups of friends, family or neighbors. Stay outside. Stay socially distant. Wear your mask. Bring your own food and don’t share or use the same serving spoons or forks. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer frequently.
Now, more than ever, we want to be sure our community stays safe.