Celebrating the Fourth of July Outdoors

The #pandemic is subsiding in most parts of the country, mostly thanks to a vigorous push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible. But you may still wish celebrate Independence Day outdoors this weekend.

The pandemic pushed people to take more of their activities outdoors over the last 18 months since the virus is difficult to transmit in open, well-ventilated areas. And there’s no reason to stop enjoying the outdoors — and the summer sun — now!

You may opt to get together with friends and family over a cookout or at the pool to observe the nation’s 244th birthday over the long weekend. Any or all of these options will now be relatively safe if you continue to take common-sense precautions.

The World Health Organization advises that even fully vaccinated people wear masks and practice other preventive measures such as hand-washing and social distancing to discourage the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Most people will be eager to see a parade and fireworks display since so many were canceled in 2020. Leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals, however — with record temperatures throughout the western half of the country, the risk of fire is substantial.

What’s more, pets and veterans alike may be traumatized by fireworks, says American Humane. The boom and bombast of ceremonial fireworks isn’t much different from live ammunition when you suffer from #PTSD.

Veterans’ groups will participate in Independence Day events throughout the country, however, appearing at parades and festivals. Many will feature fundraising for veterans’ causes, and all offer locals the opportunity to #thankaveteran personally.

If you have time, visit one of the country’s many state and national parks. More people have embraced hiking and camping during the pandemic, and there is probably no better or healthier way to see “America the Beautiful” up close.

Whatever you choose to do over the long weekend, try to get outside and celebrate the nation’s birthday safely. The pandemic is not yet over, but the good weather will end before you know it.

 

Practice Safe Grilling for the Fourth of July

Is there anything better than a Fourth of July #cookout? If you’re having family and friends over for some warm-weather fun, remember to grill safely, says Nationwide Insurance. Place your grill on a level surface, a safe distance away from any structures and overhanging branches. If using propane, wait five minutes to relight the grill if it goes out; with charcoal, go easy on the starter fluid. Wear clothing that won’t get caught in the grill and catch fire, and keep kids away. Finally, keep baking soda or a bucket of sand handy in case of a grease fire. ClothingDonations.org and the Vietnam Veterans of America wish you a safe, healthy and happy Independence Day!

Celebrate Your Independence From Clutter

If you’d like to celebrate the 4th of July in a nonflammable, indoor manner, try declaring your independence from #clutter with 7 Tips from Tailored Living. First, you must admit that there is a problem, then set house rules asking every family member to pick up after themselves. Next, eliminate unnecessary items from each room, putting stuff that doesn’t belong in a particular place where it should be and getting rid of items that no longer serve a useful purpose. Purge the closets and garage and contact ClothingDonations.org for a #donation pickup. Finally, make an honest assessment of your storage needs to maximize the space you have for the remaining stuff.

Exercise Caution When Using Sparklers

One of the most ubiquitous fireworks is also one of the most dangerous, according to USA Today. Accounting for up to one-quarter of the 12,000 fireworks-related emergency room visits every year, sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals or set clothing on fire. Take extreme caution when giving them to children — especially kids under 10. Keep a bucket of water nearby to cool the spent sticks, which can remain hot enough to cause second-degree burns long after you stop spelling your name in light. Also consider safer alternatives such as glow sticks or bamboo sparklers, which cool down fast.

Safety First When Setting off Fireworks

With Independence Day coming up, the National Safety Council (NSC) warns that although many fireworks are legal, they aren’t necessarily safe. More than 12,000 people were injured in fireworks-related incidents in 2017, and two-thirds (67%) of the injuries took place in the weeks surrounding July 4. If you choose to set off fireworks this month, follow precautions such as wearing protective eyewear; staying clear of people, houses and flammable materials; keeping a bucket of water nearby for spent fireworks; and only allowing older children to use them under strict adult supervision. “Better yet, grab a blanket and a patch of lawn, kick back and let the experts handle the fireworks show,” NSC says.