This year, tips for a safe July 4 go beyond fireworks handling, sun protection and swimming guidelines to remind revelers to observe local guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
And while it may be a year to rethink the traditional barbecue, and watch fireworks from home or on television, with the proper planning, it’s still possible to enjoy a festive and relaxing Fourth.
Reminding citizens #COVIDStopsWithMe, the U.S. Surgeon General and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offer four tips for preventing infection spread:
- Follow federal, state and local guidelines;
- Take extra precautions if you are at higher risk for severe illness;
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and
- Stay six feet away from others when you can, and wear a face covering in public when you cannot social distance.
In areas that are reopening, the CDC advises caution. The temptation to socialize is great, but the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of disease spread, the agency noted. The CDC also suggests keeping these essential items on hand: a cloth face covering, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if possible.
Barbecues = BYO Everything
Again, local mandates prevail, but findings that the outdoors reduces transmission risk make barbecues the ideal July 4 celebration. And hosting is easier than ever, since experts advise guests bring their own EVERYTHING, from food to glassware and utensils. In this new backyard normal, hosts need only supply handwashing stations and possibly extra masks, according to the New York Times’ How to Have Friends Over.
Other tips for a safe July 4 barbecue:
- Serve food hot off the grill, inviting guests to serve themselves.
- Limit your social circle, as the more households you mix, the more potential exposure you risk.
- Bathroom use by guests is okay; just provide plenty of sanitizer and paper towels.
New Rules for Road-trippers
This summer, AAA forecasts Americans will take 700 million trips based on economic indicators and state re-openings. The majority — 97 percent — will be by car, up from 87 percent in past years. For road-trippers seeking a safe July 4 and beyond, AAA recommends booking hotels in advance and planning out gas and food stops. Also, keep in mind that some national parks and attractions have capacity limits, the association noted.
Also before booking hotels: ask whether they’ve launched daily staff temperature screenings, which are mandated in some states to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Finally, if traveling during the pandemic, the CDC advises reviewing COVID-19 rates at your destination ahead of time. Also research any quarantine requirements for both arrival and return destinations in advance, even if making the trip by car.
Don’t Forget the Usual
Lest we forget the traditional July 4 advice for safe celebrations, the American Red Cross offers tips for safe fireworks, grilling and swimming.