TULSA, Okla. — COVID-19 has affected yet another tradition for many— 4th of July fireworks.
Due to safety concerns over the pandemic, some major events like Freedom Fest have been pushed back or in other cases, canceled.
While many people are choosing to stay away from large groups, Big Bang Fireworks store owner Sherry Barbour, says that has brought more people into her 15 storefront locations.
"With fireworks sales, you never know what you are going to get," Barbour said. "This year has been so different, our sales are up about 30% over last year."
Everything from sparklers and firecrackers to fireworks packs have been flying off the shelves.
"The week or two prior before the 4th its usually maybe a bit of a pop on Saturday night, but this year its been so busy," Barbour said. "With a lot of the public events being canceled, people are coming in and saying, 'We want to have fun and we want to party.' People are buying and preparing early."
That uptick in local fireworks sales has Andy Little, the public information officer for the Tulsa Fire Department, more concerned this year as they remind per city ordinance, it's illegal to set off fireworks within city limits.
“We’re really hoping that people will follow the ordinance," Little said.
Because more people buying more fireworks could mean more calls than the usual increase around this time of year.
“Last year the Alexander Burn Unit had a 30% increase in the weeks leading up to the 4th of July and the weeks following, so we are really concerned,” Little said.
In addition to burn safety, Little says this could also risk exposure to COVID-19 for everyone.
“If we have to come to respond to you because you are ill, it also affects the first responders," Little said. “We already had a large number of firefighter recently quarantined because of potential exposure.”
So this year, it’s especially important to handle anything that crackles, sparks, or blows—carefully.
“Just be very careful with your children, don’t allow them to be unsupervised and let's do our best to keep our kids safe our neighbors safe and ourselves safe," Little said.
For the pending plans, most people are making for July 4th, the Red Cross is offering some advice to stay safe while celebrating during a pandemic.
If your community is reopening, it’s important to know which safety measures to take as you venture out in public. Follow these coronavirus precautions.
For people wondering how to safely enjoy the holiday, the American Red Cross offered some guidance:
- Social distance by staying 6 feet away from others, especially if you are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (over age 65 or any age with underlying medical conditions).
- Continue to wear cloth face coverings in public. Face coverings are most essential when social distancing is difficult.
- Follow guidelines for your area when it comes to how large gatherings can be. Avoid crowds and mass gatherings.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Stay home if you are sick.
Red Cross offers several apps to help people stay safe during the Fourth of July holiday.
- The Red Cross Swim App has water safety tips and resources for parents and caregivers along with child-friendly games, videos and quizzes.
- The Red Cross Emergency App can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.
- The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips.
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