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A few simple ways to stay safe on the Fourth of July from water safety to fireworks

The American Red Cross said celebrating Independence Day this year will be different due to the coronavirus.

The American Red Cross announced Monday ways to stay safe as people celebrate the Fourth of July.

“The Fourth of July is just ahead, a time when people typically enjoy the summer holiday with backyard barbecues, fireworks or water fun,” the American Red Cross said in a press release. 

The organization said celebrating Independence Day will be different this year due to the coronavirus.

Allison Taylor, regional CEO for Greater Carolinas said if your community is reopening, it’s important to know which safety measures to take as you go out in public.

Taylor recommends people follow precautions such as:

Continuing to social distance by staying 6 feet away from others, especially if they are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

  • Continuing to wear cloth face coverings in public.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Staying home if you are sick.

The Red Cross gave safety tips on fireworks, grilling, water, and beaches.

Fireworks Safety

The organization said 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.

Fireworks Safety tips include:

  1. Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  5. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

Grilling Safety

The Red Cross said grilling fires spark more than 10,000 home fires on average each year in the U.S.

In order to avoid this the organization recommends to:

  • 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.

Water Safety 

Warmer weather means enjoying the water. Be 'water smart,' have swimming skills and know how to help others,” the Red Cross said.

The nonprofit said 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.

The organization said with less access to lifeguarded aquatic facilities this summer, some may consider open water environments that are not designated for swimming.

The Red Cross offers the following tips on Water Safety:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Designate a water watcher whose sole responsibility is to supervise people during any in-water activity until the next person takes over.
  5. 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.

Beach Safety

The Red Cross recommends learning how to swim in the surf and said you should also swim only at a lifeguard-protected beach, within the designated swimming area, and to obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.

The nonprofit gave the following tips:

  1. Keep alert and check the local weather conditions.
  2. Swim sober and never swim alone.
  3. Make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  4. Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets as an extra layer of protection. No one should use an inflatable or other floatation device that is not Coast Guard approved unless they are able to swim.
  5. Don’t dive headfirst—protect your neck. Check for water depth and obstructions before diving and go in feet first the first time.
  6. Pay close attention to children and elderly persons when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause a loss of footing.
  7. Keep a lookout for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous.
  8. Before you leave for the beach, check the official National Weather Service surf zone forecasts and/or beach advisories and closings link. You also can ask your hotel or rental agency for local sources of weather and beach forecasts.
  9. Know what the warning flags mean in your location. Read the beach safety signs at the entrance to the beach. Once on the beach, look for beach warning flags, often posted on or near a lifeguard's stand. The nonprofit said to read and obey posted beach signs and warning flags. Red Cross said warning flags aren't used in all areas and their meaning can vary from area to area. You can visit this link from U.S. Lifesaving Association for information on the beach you are visiting.

"Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year and for most of the rescues performed by beach lifeguards. For your safety, be aware of the danger of rip currents," the Red Cross said.

The nonprofit recommends swimming parallel to the shore until you are out of the current, if you are caught in a rip current.

"Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore," the Red Cross said "If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore."

The organization recommends staying at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties and said permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

Visit The Red Cross’ website for more information.

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