DAYTON — The Fourth of July is just ahead, a time when people typically enjoy the summer holiday with backyard barbecues, fireworks or water fun. But this year, celebrating Independence Day will be different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The American Red Cross offers safety tips to follow:

• Continue to social distance by staying six feet away from others, especially when at high risk for contracting 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 local guidelines when it comes to how large gatherings can be. Avoid crowds and mass gatherings.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

• Anyone who is sick should stay home.

For anyone looking for a special way to mark the holiday, the Red Cross is still collecting new, hand-made masks for use at the Dayton VA. Anyone interested in making face coverings to support this effort can find instructions on the Centers for Disease Control website or at

“As we all understand, face coverings are going to be needed for a long period of time and this is just one small way that we can show a Veteran that we are thinking of them,” Executive Director Lynne Gump said.

Please place completed face coverings in a sealed plastic bag, with a note indicating the number of coverings within the bag. The face coverings can be mailed via the US Postage Service to any of the following Red Cross offices:

Miami Valley Ohio Red Cross

370 W First Street Dayton OH 45402


1314 Barnhart Rd, Troy OH 373


130 Martz St, Greenville OH 45331

Grilling safety

Grilling fires spark more than 10,000 home fires on average each year in the U.S. To avoid this:

• 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. 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. With less access to lifeguarded aquatic facilities this summer, some may consider open water environments that are not designated for swimming.

1. Parents should talk to their children, including older youth and teenagers, about water safety. A variety of resources are available at and

2. For families going out to any body of 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, from anyone who doesn’t live in the home.

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.

Download Red Cross apps

The Red Cross offers a series of free mobile apps to put lifesaving safety information in the palm of your hand. Download these apps by searching for “American Red Cross” in the app store or at

• 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 anyone safe by providing vital information from 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.