By: Judith Weeks
Every year on Independence Day, Americans take part in patriotic celebrations. They gather for barbecues and concerts, hit the beach, and watch fireworks under the stars. But this year—2020, year of the global pandemic—your Fourth of July will be anything but traditional. Citizens are dealing with a patchwork of social distancing restrictions and mandates, and many communities have canceled their festivals and celebrations for the entire summer.
In this new normal, how can you come together with friends and family to celebrate the Fourth while keeping yourself safe from contagion? Well, your safest strategy of all is to embrace video conferencing and hold a Virtual Celebration. There are plenty of free tech tools out there to make this happen—Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Hangouts Meet, and more. If you’ve got kids or work from home, you’re already ahead of the curve.
Now let’s get creative: Designate a day and time for your Virtual Celebration and send your invitations near and far (keeping time zone differences in mind). Got a friend in quarantine? No problem. Each group or individual can prepare their own picnic or barbecue and then prop up a device (laptop, tablet, or smartphone) in a shady spot by their picnic table or beach blanket. It may not be an in-person party, but in a lot of ways it’s easier—after all.
You could even take part in this year’s virtual Wawa Welcome American Celebration, which is a free, online version of their annual 4th of July celebration: https://welcomeamerica.com/
No matter how or where you celebrate your Fourth of July holiday, the American Red Cross has some tips for holiday safety:
To prevent virus spread, wear a mask! There’s growing evidence that masks help. (And besides, why not?) In public, stay at least 6 feet away from others. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, because that’s how germs enter your body. And since you might’ve touched surfaces that are frequently touched by others (door handle, gas pump, ATM, shopping cart), wash your hands frequently, lathering up for at least 20 seconds. If there’s no soap and water, use hand sanitizer. Needless to say, avoid crowds and stay home if you don’t feel well. Did we mention masks? Wear a mask.
Many public fireworks shows are canceled this summer to avoid holding events where large crowds will gather. If you plan to use your own fireworks, check first if it is legal in your 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 and keep a supply of water close by just to be safe. 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.
Always supervise the grill and don’t grill in an enclosed area; in fact, locate the grill well away from your house, camper, shed, or other structure. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
Keep cold food cold in a cooler with plenty of ice. (It should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. ) Pack beverages in a separate container—that limits the opening and shutting of the food cooler, and also deters cross-contamination. Wash your hands before preparing and handling food. Don’t leave food out in the hot sun.
Never leave children or pets in a vehicle unattended; interior car temperatures can quickly soar to 120°F. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid caffeine or alcohol. Wear loose fitting-clothing. Periodically, go indoors or take a dip to cool off. Keep an eye on your older family members. Wear sunscreen!
Never, ever allow children to be unsupervised at a pool or the beach, even if they’re using floaters. Drowning can happen in seconds. If a person or child is in distress, do not enter the water, but throw them an object they can hang on to. If necessary and you’re trained, perform CPR until help arrives.
These are just a few tips to safely enjoy your holiday and protect yourself from the coronavirus. For more, go to: redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/summer-safety-tips.html