News-Miner opinion: The Fourth of July holiday is annually a cause for celebration, but it is also a cause to be concerned about safety. The holiday comes with the dual hazards of drunken drivers and the mishandling of fireworks, both of which can cause injury or death.
This year comes with a third risk: the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease that it causes.
The risk of becoming infected with the virus is something that each of us must weigh every day. It’s important to weigh that risk when contemplating whether to hold a Fourth of July event, be it a barbecue at home with a few friends or neighbors or a larger gathering at a park or other venue, or whether to attend one.
It can’t be said enough these days: Wear a mask. Heck, there are even patriotic masks that display the U.S. flag or come adorned with other red, white and blue designs.
Remember, wearing a mask isn’t so much for your protection as it is for the protection of others in case you happen to be carrying the coronavirus.
It’s doubly important now with the number of cases on the rise around our state. Alaska has recorded well over a 100 cases among residents this week and several more of nonresidents. That’s a sharp increase since the state began relaxing its restrictions in mid-May.
Again, wear the mask. Wash your hands often. Stay at least 6 feet away from others when outside.
Those other two other Fourth of July risks — drunken driving and improper use of fireworks — are much easier to prevent.
With drunken driving, just don’t do it.
The Fourth of July holiday marks the midpoint of what is sometimes referred to as the “100 Deadly Days of Summer.” The Fourth of July holiday falls halfway between that stretch, which starts with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day.
The Fourth of July is often one of the deadliest days of the year for drunken-driving vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. From 2014 to 2018, according to the agency, 812 people died in crashes involving drunken drivers during the Fourth of July holiday period.
The agency adds this reminder: “Drunk driving isn’t the only risky behavior causing crashes on our roads; drug-impaired driving is an issue too. Whether the drug is obtained legally or illegally, drug-impaired driving is dangerous and illegal in all states.”
As for fireworks, they’re fun — though not all that glorious up here in the land of 24-hour daylight — but dangerous if not used properly. Here are some common-sense reminders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
• Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper, which often means they were made for professional displays and could be dangerous for consumers.
• Make sure you, your kids, and others watch fireworks displays from a safe distance.
Drunken driving. Fireworks. A nasty virus.
Those aren’t reasons to avoid celebrating the birth of our country, however. They are just things to be aware so you can enjoy the holiday safely.
Our nation turns 244 years old Saturday. That’s just six years shy of another national milestone: 250 years. Be responsible as you celebrate this year so you can be around for the festivities in 2026 and listen to people try to say the words “semiquincentennial celebration.”