For most Americans, the Fourth of July is a time to celebrate with family, friends and fireworks. This holiday can be the best time of the summer, but it can also be hazardous. Thousands of people get injured in accidents, and there’s also an uptick in property damage on the Fourth.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic poses even more health risks to those attending parades, parties and public fireworks. Use these six tips to have a fun Fourth while protecting yourself, your loved ones and your property.
1. Protect yourself from crowds.
If you attend or host a party on the Fourth, remember that the CDC recommends wearing face coverings when you can’t maintain a distance of at least six feet. So, if there’s a chance that you won’t be able to keep that much separation, be sure to have a mask, just in case.
Celebrating at a small backyard gathering would be a safer setting than going to an indoor party, restaurant or bar. The CDC says that a significant number of people who contract COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms; therefore, it’s easy to spread coronavirus without knowing it.
2. Use fireworks with extreme caution.
To reduce the risk of injuring yourself or others, don’t use fireworks unless you have experience using them and they’re legal in your area. Watching a professional firework show from a distance is your safest option.
If you do use fireworks, never let children or anyone who isn’t extremely cautious light or handle them. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under age 15 account for approximately 45% of firework-related hospital visits. The National Fire Prevention Association says sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees and cause 25% of emergency room fireworks injuries.
Fireworks on Independence Day also account for nearly half of all reported U.S. fires. Remember that homeowners and renters who use illegal fireworks won’t be covered by their home insurance or renters policy if they accidentally hurt someone or cause property damage. So, consider celebrating with glow sticks or noisemakers instead.
3. Keep an eye on your grill.
Backyard and patio grills can cause fires and burns if not operated properly. Don’t use one too close to your home’s eaves, deck railings, overhanging tree limbs, kids’ play areas or anything combustible.
Before you fire up your grill on the Fourth, clean it by removing grease that may have accumulated on or below your grates. And never leave it unattended during cooking. If the cook needs to step away, make sure someone can step in to assist.
Note that your home insurance typically covers you if your grill accidentally causes a fire to your property, such as your home or detached garage. Likewise, your liability coverage protects you if a guest gets injured in an accident.
4. Watch out for your pets.
The Fourth of July can also be dangerous for your pets. Many animals are frightened of loud noises, and fireworks could traumatize them. Instead of leaving dogs outside, bring them in when fireworks start.
Make sure your pets stay away from grills and sparklers, so they don’t get burned. Even exposure to unlit fireworks could be dangerous because many contain potentially toxic chemicals.
Review your insurance policy to find out what is and isn’t covered by your insurance when it comes to your pets.
5. Prepare for any road trips.
If you’re planning on taking a road trip for the Fourth of July, some preparation will go a long way toward keeping you safe. First, if you think your neighbors will be using fireworks, ask a trusted one to keep a watch on your home and make sure they have your contact information.
If you’ve been driving less during the pandemic, make sure your ride is ready. Consider having a mechanic check your tires, fluid levels, windshield wiper blades and battery.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, July and August are the top months for vehicle thefts. So be sure always to lock your vehicle when you leave it.
6. Be a safe swimmer.
Take extra precautions if you, your children or guests plan on swimming at your home, the beach or at a pool party on the Fourth. Always designate an adult to watch kids that are in and around the water.
If you have a pool, make sure you have proper safety equipment, such as life rings and a reaching pole. Also, check to make sure you comply with local regulations, such as having a fence around your pool and using self-latching gates.
While it’s not fun to think about, the liability provided by your home insurance covers pool-related accidents, but only up to your policy limits. Having a separate personal liability insurance policy is an excellent way to significantly boost your coverage if you got involved in a lawsuit after an accident at home or in your car.
This article isn’t a complete list of potential hazards you might see on the Fourth. But taking a few precautions ahead of the holiday will help make it a safe time filled with celebration.