By: Chris Chmura, Red Cross Volunteer
We usually take our summers seriously in Northeast Ohio, but this year is extra special due to COVID-19 restrictions easing and life normalizing a little.
The Fourth of July is right around the corner, a time when people typically enjoy the summer holiday with backyard barbecues, fireworks, or water fun. Independence Day will be different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which could be a little tricky because of the mixed rates of vaccinated Ohioans across the region. The American Red Cross offers safety tips you can follow to help you enjoy and stay safe during the Fourth of July.
“We know the summertime, particularly the time around the 4th of July, is a great time to get together with friends and family,” said Dr. Austin Wellock, Medical Director, Emergency Department at Summa Health System – Akron Campus. “It’s important to know there can be dangers associated with some everyday outdoor activities. Around this time each year, we see patients in our emergency departments for fireworks related injuries and food illnesses.”
As communities reopening with events, inform yourself of precautions and new regulations that are being set to attend in public settings.
If you have not been vaccinated, you may want to continue to social distance by staying 6 feet away from others, especially if you are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (over age 65 or any age with underlying medical conditions). If you are vaccinated, educate yourself about the events your planning to attend through their websites and contact numbers.
- Some events may have attendees and/or working staff continue to wear cloth face coverings in public. Face coverings are most essential when social distancing is difficult. If vaccinated, you might be free or required to wear a mask.
- Follow guidelines for your area when it comes to how large gatherings can be. Avoid crowds and mass gatherings if you are not comfortable.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Stay home if you are sick.
Many of last year’s public fireworks shows were canceled across Northern Ohio last summer as communities tried to avoid holding events with large crowds. If you plan to attend a public show this year, we suggest educating yourself on the event that you plan to attend because each city/county may have different restrictions. Each state have various laws related to personal use fireworks.
- 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 older children and teens are more likely to drown than any other location. With less access to lifeguarded aquatic facilities this summer, youth and teens may consider open water environments that are not designated for swimming.
- Talk to your children, including older youth and teenagers, about water safety. A variety of resources are available at redcross.org/watersafety and redcross.org/watersafetyforkids.
- If you choose to take your family 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 you and people who don’t live with you.
- 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.
- 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.
DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross offers a series of free mobile apps to put lifesaving safety information in the palm of your hand. Download these apps by searching for “American Red Cross” in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.
- The Red Cross Swim App has water safety tips and resources for parents and caregivers along with child-friendly games, videos and quizzes.
- The Red Cross Emergency App can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.
- The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips.