In normal years, a post about Independence Day safety might include tips on proper grilling or how to light fireworks without blowing off your toes.
But 2020 is anything but normal, with COVID-19 re-defining “safe” as “huddled in your closet alone with your pets humming ‘I’m a Little Teapot.’” Perhaps not the best way to celebrate, so here are some more festive options for Independence Day 2020.
With the holiday mere days away, let’s take a sec to talk tips for protecting everyone’s health and safety through the world’s first Coronavirus 4th of July.
Celebrate together…6 feet apart!
Virtual events like the Bend Pet Parade are still the safest way to mark our country’s birthday, and you’ll find details here.
If you’re itching to get out of the house, keep in mind Oregon is now requiring (yep, REQUIRING) masks or face coverings in all indoor public spaces. You can still hit your favorite Bend burger joint or barbecue shack, but you’ll need to mask up unless you are actively shoveling grilled meat into your face hole.
Whether you’re out floating the river or watching Bend’s fireworks display (more on that in a sec) remember to stay 6 feet from all people who aren’t part of your immediate family. Pack plenty of hand sanitizer, and prepare to move on if your favorite park or trailhead is already packed. There’s plenty of space for all of us, so spread out and stay safe.
Yep, the fireworks are still happening!
While many towns are cancelling their July 4 fireworks displays, Bend’s is still scheduled as usual. As always, the show starts at 10 p.m. on July 4. While the park east of the Butte is closed to promote social distancing, plenty of other Bend parks will be popular places for firework viewing.
To find your primo spot, scope out this parks list for ideas. Got one in mind? Good. Now go back and pick two or three more. That way when you show up to find your first pick filled to capacity, you can choose another spot where safe social distancing is easier.
Once you’ve got your spot, set up where you can safely maintain six feet of space between you and other households. Remember that fireworks aren’t permitted in the parks themselves, and neither is alcohol.
While parks normally close at 10 p.m., the good folks at Bend Parks & Rec extend that on July 4, since the show doesn’t start until then. Reciprocate their kind gesture by clearing out promptly after the show ends. Remember to take all trash with you, and bring a flashlight so you don’t miss anything.
More on masks…
I’m not sure how the mask thing became a political debate, but the rules are pretty simple: As of July 1, they’re required in all indoor public spaces in Oregon. Period. You can go here to find details on what that means.
The Bend Visitor Center is following those guidelines, and we’ll have face coverings available for those who forget. We’re following strict social distancing protocols and have shortened our hours to 10-4 daily.
Let’s take this seriously, guys. Maybe you don’t care if you personally get sick, but how do you know you’re not an asymptomatic carrier spreading germs to a child fighting cancer or someone’s elderly grandma? In Bend, we look out for one another. That means masking up to keep everyone safe and healthy so we all live to play another day.
Don’t forget Rover’s safety
Noisy fireworks are definitely not your dog’s best friend, and animal shelters get flooded each year when terrified pets bust out of backyards.
Trust me: Your pup doesn’t need to see the fireworks. Keep four-legged friends inside, preferably in a quiet room with music to dull the scary sounds. Act calm and give plenty of reassuring snuggles and pets. Talk to your vet ahead of time if you think Fido needs a sedative, and be sure his tags and microchip are up to date in case he gets loose.
Don’t be a firebug
As usual this time of year, Bend is heading into fire season. Not-so-usual (though certainly not unheard of) is the fact that Deschutes County is officially in a state of drought emergency. With forest fire risk at dangerous levels, fire safety is an absolute must.
As of June 26, open fires (including wood stoves and charcoal briquette fires) are prohibited except in designated campgrounds and established fire rings. Go here for info on the rules, along with news about wildfires springing up around the region.
Remember that fireworks are never, EVER allowed on State or Federal forest lands, or in parks and campgrounds.
If you’re setting off legal fireworks in residential areas, be sure you’ve got a big bucket of water and that everything is properly extinguished. Better yet, consider sitting this year out for the DIY fireworks. First responders have enough to do without pausing to fight backyard blazes or tend burned hands.
As always, pick up your trash. Not just the fireworks, but all of it. We’re big on Leave No Trace ethics in Bend, so let’s all do our part to leave Bend even better than we found it.