WEST PALM BEACH — The Fourth of July is just ahead, a time when people typically enjoy the summer holiday with backyard barbecues, fireworks or water fun. But this year, celebrating Independence Day will be different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The American Red Cross offers safety tips you can follow.
“As we see many communities reopening, we want our community to be safe and take care of their loved ones by following COVID-19 safety measures and taking precautions when they venture out in public,” shared Joanne Nowlin, CEO for the South Florida Red Cross.
• 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).
• Continue to wear cloth face coverings in public. Face coverings are most essential when social distancing is difficult.
• Follow guidelines for your area when it comes to how large gatherings can be. Avoid crowds and mass gatherings.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
• Stay home if you are sick.
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.
Grilling fires spark more than 10,000 home fires on average each year in the United States. 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 people are more likely to drown than any other location. With less access to lifeguarded aquatic facilities this summer, some 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.