By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– San Bernardino County residents will be gathering with friends and family this weekend to not only celebrate our nation, but enjoy the fun and camaraderie lost during the pandemic. The County wants to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July, with a few reminders on how to keep it safe.
Tip #1: Plan your gatherings with safety in mind
With more and more people getting the COVID-19 vaccine, this holiday weekend will start to look and feel more normal – but with the coronavirus still present, it’s important to keep health and safety top of mind.
If you are fully vaccinated, any gathering is allowed without wearing a mask or physically distancing (in places where it is not otherwise required by mandate or policy, such as healthcare settings).
For people who haven’t received the vaccine, however, current recommendations still include wearing a mask and remaining socially distant from those not living with you. With dangerous variants still lurking (see related story below), the non-vaccinated should avoid large crowds and indoor gatherings.
Additionally, with masks now off, regular germs are now more apt to spread. If someone is feeling sick, it’s best for them to stay home to prevent spreading illness to others. And of course, everyone can help prevent the spread of many kinds of germs by frequently washing their hands.
Tip 2: Remember food safety guidelines
When it comes to food, and with the likelihood that there will be some unvaccinated people at your gathering, reduce the risk of spreading germs (including COVID-19) by avoiding shared food items that are hand-touched, like bowls of chips or peanuts.
It’s also important to store your food safely. Hot summer temperatures combined with food that’s left out for too long can lead to food poisoning. Pack up and chill your leftovers as soon as you can. Bacteria grows fast at room temperature – two hours is the maximum time food can sit out. If it’s hotter than 90 degrees, then the longest food can sit out is one hour.
Tip 3: Practice firework safety
Fireworks and July 4th go hand-in-hand, but it’s important to remember that fireworks are dangerous, especially in our excessive heat and drought conditions. It’s best to leave the fireworks shows to the professionals, and in fact, only a few cities in our county allow the sale of “safe and sane” fireworks.
Under California law, all fireworks that explode, shoot into the air, or move along the ground are considered dangerous and are illegal to possess. That includes firecrackers, skyrockets, roman candles, mortars, and “chasers” that dart along the ground, and “safe and sane” fireworks that have been modified.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, on a typical Fourth of July, fireworks cause more fires in the U.S. than all other causes combined. In addition to fires, fireworks cause deaths, blindness, maiming injuries to children and adults, re-traumatize war veterans suffering from PTSD, and frighten household pets.
If you are in a city where legal fireworks are allowed and you will be lighting them yourself at home, remember to use them far away from any buildings, including your house. Don’t use fireworks on dry grass or near any leaves, trees or shrubbery. And finally, know the location of other people, your children and your pets at all times. Don’t let them stand close while setting off fireworks.
The San Bernardino County Fire website has compiled a list of all firework celebration events across the county, as well as more information on firework safety and a reporting page for illegal fireworks.