With Fourth of July firework festivities already underway in many cities throughout Lonoke County, the Carlisle and Lonoke fire departments share safety precautions in hope to avoid unwanted fires or injuries this Independence Day.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2016 annual fireworks report released in 2017, fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,100 injuries treated in United States hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2016. Thirty-nine percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 31 percent of the estimated 2016 injuries, of which 20 percent were between the ages of five and 15 years old, and 12 percent were under the age of five.
“Fireworks are a part of many celebrations on July fourth,” Lonoke Fire Chief Justin Whittenburg said. “They are beautiful to look at, but they also can be deadly. There are a few simple rules that everyone should follow to make sure your Fourth of July celebrations do not end in tragedy.”
One tip offered by both Whittenburg and Carlisle Fire Chief Derryk Burks offered, is for parents to keep their eyes on their children anytime fireworks are being discharged, especially the traditional sparklers.
“Never let children handle fireworks, even just sparklers,” Burks said. “Sparklers burn hot enough to melt some metals. Imagine what they could do to a kid’s hands. Keep a close eye on children at any events where people are lighting fireworks.”
“All parents should keep their eyes on their children,” Whittenburg said. “Parents should also make sure that they are supervising their child if they have sparklers. They burn up to 1200 degrees and are just as dangerous as larger fireworks. Sparklers can be harmful if the sparks get on your skin so be attentive to how they are burning while holding them. “
Next, be mindful when selecting a safe location for discharging fireworks.
“When you are shooting off fireworks make sure you are not in a grassy area,” Whittenburg said. “There has not been much rain and the grass can be dry. One spark could cause a fire so make sure you are on a paved or concrete surface, and also make sure you have water that can be access quickly in case there is a fire.”
“Light fireworks in a open clear area away from building, vehicles, or tall grass,” Burks said. “Try to avoid things that will catch fire. If you’re lighting fireworks that launch into the sky, plan for their landing in a safe area. Keep a bucket or a water hose close by so you can put out a fire if it happens.”
Always ensure used fireworks are out before properly disposing them.
“Please make sure fireworks are completely out before disposing them in the garbage,” Whittenburg added.
“After fireworks burn out, toss them in a bucket of water or spray them off with a hose,” Burks suggested. “Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait at least 20 minutes or so before handling it. Then soak in a bucket of water.
Whittenburg also said fireworks should never be held while being discharged.
“One last safety tip is to not hold fireworks in your hand as you are shooting them,” Whittenburg said. “Fireworks are unpredictable, and do not always go off the way they are supposed to. This could cause major injuries such as burns to the skin, injuries or loss to limbs and/or death. Always make sure to use appropriate containers to shoot your fireworks off.”
Burks suggested safety glasses should also be used to avoid injury.
“Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks,” Burks said. “Bottle rockets are notorious for shooting into people’s eyes, so keep them covered whenever possible. If you experience a large burn or any injury to the eyes or the body please seek medical attention.”
In addition, Burks said alcohol and fireworks, do not mix.
“Avoid alcohol while handling fireworks,” Burks said. “It’s just an accident waiting to happen, so save the alcohol for afterwards.”
Lastly, Burks said to mindful when it comes to your furry, four legged friends.
“Keep pets indoors,” Burks said. “You may want to let them get outside to enjoy the fireworks, but most animals become extremely frightening by the load noises and burned smell.”
“As always if an emergency happens you should call 911,” Whittenburg said. “From the Lonoke Fire Department, we wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July.”
“Be careful and have a wonderful and safe holiday,” Burks said. “From our family to yours, at the Carlisle Fire Department.”