A rapid rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Greater Cincinnati combined with the Fourth of July weekend creates a perfect storm for unsafe conditions this year.
UC Health Emergency Departments see an increase in injuries every Independence Day because of the dangerous nature of explosives.
But this weekend isn’t just about fireworks safety: It’s about practicing precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 as we gather to celebrate.
Follow these tips to celebrate safely.
Cookouts or get-togethers
Stay outdoors as much as possible. Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people in one location. Physical distancing is extremely important in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Keep at least 6 feet apart when interacting, even if you wear a mask, and especially while eating. Wear masks, especially indoors, and wash hands frequently. Consider asking guests to bring their own dining ware. Skip the buffet and possibly use single-serve helpings. Ask your guests to wash or sanitize hands before and after eating.
Outdoor dining at restaurants
Choose restaurants where tables are more than 6 feet apart and where staff are wearing masks and using ample amounts of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Indoor dining and bars
Avoid bars and avoid restaurants that appear too crowded. If you choose to eat at a restaurant, opt for locations with outdoor dining. Keep in mind that people talk loudly indoors and may not be wearing masks at indoor restaurants. Droplets can travel further than 6 feet when people cough, sneeze or speak loudly. Indoor areas have less ventilation than outdoors.
Public swimming pools
Keep in mind that kids will not maintain distancing in the pool or around the pool. Obviously, they are also not wearing masks while swimming. The pool water itself doesn't seem to be a danger, but the atmosphere tends to be social, and lacks masking and distancing.
Getaways, such as camping or traveling out of state
If camping, choose designated camping areas where your family can be isolated from other families. If traveling out of state, cook and eat at home, and avoid crowded lobbies in hotels.
Avoid using hand sanitizer before setting off fireworks at home. Aside from risks related to COVID-19, fireworks can cause injuries. Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers alone account for 25% of Emergency Department injuries. If you set off fireworks, use protective eyewear, and keep a bucket of water or an extinguisher handy in case of a malfunction or fire. If fireworks malfunction, don’t re-light them! Soak them in water, and then throw them away. Never build your own fireworks or modify fireworks bought at a store — this is often a recipe for injury.