The Fourth of July will look a little different in Douglas County this year.

Under COVID-19 guidelines in Minnesota, large group gatherings are discouraged, and social distancing and mask wearing is highly encouraged.

But there will still be Fourth of July celebrations, such as boat parades and fireworks – both legal and illegal. Douglas County residents should make extra efforts to stay safe over the long holiday weekend. The top priority: Don’t put yourself or others at risk.

There are more than 9,000 firework-related emergencies annually and more than a third (36 percent) of those involve children under the age of 15. The Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that it’s no surprise that about two-thirds of firework injuries happen around this time of year.

“Each year, emergency physicians see an influx of people coming into the ER with avoidable fireworks injuries,” said William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “When it comes to using fireworks to cap off your Independence celebration, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.”

In the Douglas County area, that would include the popular Star Storm display at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria. Weather permitting, the firework show will take place on Saturday, July 4, starting around 10 p.m.

Because of social distancing requirements, there will be no shuttle service to the resort and no outside guests will be allowed on the Arrowwood property this year. Only resort guests will be allowed on the property. Parking will be available in the stables parking lot for people to stay in their vehicle to watch the show. People can also still watch by boat.

Star Storm this year will be aired live on the Arrowwood Resort Facebook page for people to watch from the comfort of their own home. And just like in the past, Star Storm will continue to have music, which will be broadcast on KIKV-FM 100.7.

If you are using your own legal fireworks, the American College of Emergency Physicians encourages you to follow these firework safety tips to limit your risk of serious burn or injury:

  • Make sure you buy fireworks, sparklers or other flammable items from reputable, legal sellers.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher and large bucket of water or hose nearby.

  • Light one at a time and keep everything flammable away from children. This includes sparklers, which can burn hot enough to melt metal and cause serious burns or injuries.

  • Never try to re-light or handle fireworks that malfunction or don’t go off.

  • Do not ignite fireworks in containers that could create dangerous shrapnel.

  • Avoid horseplay with or near fireworks, torches, candles or any flammable items; don’t point fireworks at people or launch them toward anyone.

  • When lighting a firework do not stand directly over it. Back up immediately after it is lit.

  • After use, spray fireworks with water until soaked. Placing dry fireworks in a trash can creates a fire hazard.

The ongoing pandemic adds another layer of concern to this year’s celebrations, the ACEP added. Given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still urges people to social distance with six feet or more between people, it’s best to choose outdoor activities with small groups rather than indoor gatherings with larger crowds.

Other advice from the ACEP: You may want to rethink typical summer activities like potlucks and cookouts to limit the number of people handling or serving food. You should also continue to wear a mask when in public space, and wash your hands frequently throughout the day.

“The pandemic continues to create a ‘new normal’ for all of us,” said Dr. Jaquis. “Your Fourth of July festivities might look a little different this year, but we can’t ignore the very real threat that the virus still poses.”