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.

 

Managing a Move During the Pandemic

While slowing the spread of COVID-19 has required Americans to stay at home for more than year, where their homes are is changing rapidly. Since the start of the #pandemic, millions of people have pulled up stakes and #moved permanently.

Some people lost their jobs and were forced to move to save on expenses. Others want to find more space for their new #remote offices and classrooms. And some just want to get out of congested city centers and pursue a more socially distanced lifestyle every day.

If you’re looking at a move in the near future, be forewarned that the coronavirus has (of course) complicated the process. “Every task is just a little bit harder during the pandemic,” says USA Today.

To start, you’ll have to observe the proper sanitizing, masking and distancing precautions with any number of new people, including realtors or leasing agents, movers and storage facilities, and contractors and delivery personnel. And you’ll need them to take antiviral protocols seriously, too.

Look for “companies that require employees and customers to wear masks, detail how they practice social distancing, and can explain what steps they are taking to screen and protect their employees from becoming sick,” The New York Times says.

If you are in the market for a new home, rental and real estate agents are offering video tours to help people scope things out from a distance before they commit. Google’s Street View can also offer a preview of the new neighborhood.

Moving also means packing everything you own into boxes. Whether you’re purposely #downsizing or just trying to #streamline the moving process, weed out the things you won’t need in your new home; there’s no reason to move them.

As the disused clothing, books, small appliances and other household items start to pile up, set them aside in separate boxes and bags and contact ClothingDonations.org for a free, #contactless #donation #pickup. A masked driver will arrive on the appointed day to relieve you of that extra stuff.

Moving is never easy, but moving in pandemic times is that much more difficult. Let ClothingDonations.org help you strike at least one item off your long to-do list — and help you resettle happily in a new location as the pandemic slowly recedes.

Keeping the Spring Travel Bug at Bay

It has now been a full year since #lockdowns against the novel #coronavirus went into effect worldwide, shutting down in-person gatherings such as concerts, conventions, school and sporting events. People canceled their trips due to travel restrictions, and most haven’t boarded a plane since.

A year later, the prospect of taking a pleasure trip has improved. With three COVID-19 vaccines being administered nationwide, many of the most vulnerable segments of the population are starting to get some protection against the disease. But we’re not out of the woods yet, and you may still want to hold off on planning that jaunt.

Spring fever, of course, is an affliction that worsens with the rising temperatures. You probably want to go out and do something — anything — that involves fresh air, sun, scenery and social interactions. For the next few months, however, the safest bet is to get creative while breaking the routine.

One safe way to shake up the routine is to take a “staycation,” Everyday Health says. Just set aside time to create your own spa experience, meditate or explore parts of your own hometown on foot. You can also try bring one of your dream destinations home for a night; if you can’t go to Italy, for example, make some fresh pasta and cue up a Fellini film.

If you absolutely must get out of town to preserve your sanity, consider taking a camping trip with the people in your family or “pod,” says the Washington Post. If you observe masking and social distancing rules with anyone unfamiliar, camping is one of the safest ways to enjoy the outdoors while avoiding the spread of the virus.

One thing the Organizing Blog advises doing in the spring is a thorough #cleaning and #decluttering. Throw open the windows and enjoy the fresh air as you scour; once you sort out extra stuff you don’t need and #donate it to ClothingDonations.org, your home will be much more livable.

One more way to keep the travel bug at bay is to plan your dream trip(s) for the future. Experts say that domestic travel could return to normal once most people are vaccinated, and that is currently targeted to happen by the start of summer. International travel may have to wait a while longer, depending on the destination.

When you decide to travel again, you’ll have that much more pent-up anticipation for your trip — and maybe enjoy it more thoroughly as a result. But wherever you go, stay safe: Wear a mask, wash your hands and observe social distancing. Travel is fantastic food for the soul, but you don’t want to gamble with your health.

Host a Virtual Super Bowl Get-Together

Technology is making it possible to join friends and family at a fully virtual, pandemic-era Super Bowl party that shares the fun while maintaining everyone’s safety. Hulu premium subscribers can use the Teleparty app to watch the game together on their screens, CNET says, or try Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype to “gather” remotely while watching the live broadcast. To get everyone engaged and involved, try a party game such as Big Game Bingo or rate the commercials together.

Have a Safe Super Bowl Party Outdoors

While the pandemic has put a damper on most social activities, you can still have a small group over to enjoy the Super Bowl together, the Forever Freckled blog says. Have your party outdoors (weather permitting) and space out seating to maintain social distancing. Offer single-serve snacks such as Buffalo chicken sliders, and portion out dips and chips rather than serving from a communal bowl. “Everyone has different anxieties, stresses, and fears about the virus,” the blog says. “Everyone should feel comfortable without being judged.”