The Fourth of July weekend always brings its fair share of safety issues with it, and we security professionals always have lots of advice to help keep you safe when you’re celebrating. Last year, we had more advice than usual, and it wasn’t just about firework safety and wearing sunscreen. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were warning you to wear your masks, avoid large gatherings, and wash your hands.
Some things haven’t changed (please, wash your hands) and some things have – as of this writing, 145 million U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated against COVID. This means mask mandates are ending in many states, which has, in turn, led to both excitement and concern as people try to figure out if going out without a mask is safe or socially acceptable.
So how do we keep safe during the Fourth of July holiday at the tail end of the pandemic?
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Remember, the pandemic is ongoing
There are often two fronts to a pandemic. There’s the end of the disease itself, and there’s the social end of the pandemic, when people stop taking as many precautions. At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, COVID-19 is not gone. There are still cases, new variants are emerging, and many people — including the sick, the immunocompromised, and children – are not vaccinated.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t go out and enjoy your burgers and fries. Far from it. But it does mean that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to masks and gatherings. Do your best to respect the decisions of others when it comes to masking or going out. This is a time to relax and have fun. Starting a fight about masking and causing problems where there none is not just a way to ruin a party, it can also be a safety concern.
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Tips for observing the Fourth safely
Last year was tough and many people are looking forward to celebrating, but there are some things to keep in mind when you’re planning your party this year.
- Respect the rules of the establishment: Going out? Some places still require masks, even if your state does not mandate. It’s not the job of the workers in those establishments to be the mask police, so be polite and wear a mask when you’re asked to.
- Outdoor gatherings are still safest: The best thing about the Fourth is that, barring a thunderstorm, you can be outside, and outside gatherings the best when it comes to avoiding infection.
- Wash your hands: Handwashing has been crucial to stopping the spread of the disease. Remember at least 20 seconds with soap. If you’re hosting a gathering, offer handwashing stations or sanitizer.
- Be careful about sharing food: The Fourth of July is often a party with finger food and there isn’t always a lot of handwashing happening. Guard against double dipping by either avoiding dips or by putting food directly onto individual plates so guests don’t serve themselves.
- Watch that mayo: Speaking of food, keep an eye on the food that’s being left out in the heat. You don’t want to avoid COVID, but get food poisoning.
- Firework safety: If you’re going to light fireworks, use them as directed, and keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- Don’t mix guns and booze: Don’t fire guns in the air to celebrate; you never know where the bullets may come down.
- Avoid drunk driving: Don’t drink and drive. If you’re a guest, have Uber on standby. If you’re a host, keep an eye on your guests and their keys.
It’s never a bad thing to celebrate; in fact we’ve earned a celebration after this past year. However, when there’s a dangerous, easily transmissible disease in our communities, it’s important to celebrate responsibly and even more safely than usual.
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