• Aerial view of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in the fall

    George Washington

    Memorial Parkway DC, MD, VA

Tips for Independence Day

Fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial

Department of the Interior/Lawler

Beautiful fireworks, good food, and time with loved ones are hallmarks of Independence Day. So are heat and humidity, long walks, and crowds of distracted celebrants. Rangers have prepared a list of tips to help you beat these challenges and have a fun, safe Independence Day.

Avoid sunburn. Wear sunscreen and reapply it often throughout the day. Cover up with a hat, sunglasses, and light clothing. You may use a large umbrella or tent until sunset as long as you do not put any stakes in the ground.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, which make you lose more fluids.

Know how to recognize heat emergencies. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, muscle spasms and fatigue. Learn more about heat illness.

Be prepared for severe weather. No place outside is safe during a thunderstorm, so be ready to find shelter in a building or metal-topped vehicle. Learn more about lightening safety.

Wear comfortable shoes. Road closures and crowds mean that you may walk much farther than you expect. Sturdy shoes will protect your feet when walking over uneven ground in the dark.

Stay on designated trails and use marked crosswalks. Do not climb over or remove fencing. Drivers are often distracted by road closures, crowds, and unfamiliar surroundings.

Follow the rules of the Mount Vernon Trail. Many pedestrians and bicyclists on the trail will be unfamiliar with its rules. Set a good example for them.

  • Use caution when entering and crossing the trail.
  • Ride, walk, run, or skate single file.
  • Keep right and move off the trail when stopped.
  • Yield to slower users.
  • Obey the 15 mile ph speed limit.
  • Slow down before intersections and in congested areas.

Stay on dry land. No swimming or wading is allowed in the Potomac River.

Consider leaving your pet at home. When deciding whether or not to bring your pet, think about whether it will be comfortable surrounded by heat and noisy fireworks, crowds of strangers, and many other animals. You may bring your pet as long as it is on a six-foot (or shorter) leash and you dispose of its waste in a trash can.

Did You Know?

Stained glass windows in Clara Barton's house.

The home of Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, has over thirty rooms and nearly fifty closets. More...