There’s never really a good time to be reckless, stupid or inconsiderate.
But the start of a long holiday weekend is really the time to pledge not to be.
Today marks the start of the Fourth of July weekend, the official start of summer and the first time in well over a year in which we’re all not subject to many of the restrictions imposed during the covid crisis.
Time to paaar-taaaay! But just because we can celebrate, let’s remember to do it safely, responsibly and respectfully.
Let’s start with the fireworks.
Set aside for a moment the fact that they may be illegal in your particular community.
Fireworks are inherently dangerous. Each year, thousands of people are injured during the holiday because they don’t know what they’re doing or they have an accident.
Most injuries are burns, but some people lose digits or limbs. Not surprisingly, 70% of those injured by fireworks are men.
If you’re going to set off fireworks, make sure you know your local laws and make sure you take every precaution so you don’t injure yourself or someone else or start a fire.
Do you really want to spend the holiday in the emergency room or jail for being an idiot?
Second, be considerate of those you might be disturbing. Many military veterans suffer from PTSD, and fireworks can exacerbate their conditions.
Many pets are also stressed out by loud noises like those created by fireworks. Why mess with these innocent animals?
Third, not everyone has the weekend off. Consider that some people need to get up for work early, and they shouldn’t be exposed to your celebration in the middle of the night. Knock it off at a reasonable hour.
The Fourth is also a big weekend for drinking. Don’t drive drunk and risk injuring or killing someone.
Know that the police are aware of the increase in drinking and will have extra patrols out looking for drunken drivers. The penalties for DWI in New York are significant.
Get a designated driver or stay put.
And keep in mind that drunkenness can be a safety issue beyond the road. Boating while intoxicated is also a crime, and it’s dangerous.
Don’t operate boats or go swimming while intoxicated, particularly in lakes and other waterways with which you aren’t familiar.
When you’re out traveling this weekend, be cognizant of those in work zones. While the state usually suspends roadwork during holiday weekends, there might be people working in some areas.
As always, obey the signs and slow down in construction zones, whether you see anyone or not. You might hit another vehicle or a construction-related object like a concrete barrier, even if you don’t hit a person.
When you see a police officer with someone pulled over by the side of the road, move over a lane if it’s safe to do so. It’s for their safety, and it’s the law.
And finally, while the covid crisis has ebbed, it’s not over. New variants of the virus are spreading, which could drive up illnesses and deaths again.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, exercise extreme caution to avoid spreading the virus to others and to avoid catching it yourself.
Wear your mask and social distance.
Almost all recent deaths from covid are in unvaccinated people. Take reasonable precautions, and be respectful of businesses’ rules and of those individuals who are taking their own precautions.
It’s been a long time since we’ve all been able to cut loose and celebrate.
Be safe. Be considerate. And behave.