Officials urge caution, safety when using fireworks for the Fourth

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate America with family and friends, but it can turn sour quickly if you don’t pay attention to safety.

“It’s not fun if someone gets hurt,” said Troy Police Chief Randall Barr. “Fireworks can easily injure your hands or eyes if not properly handled.” Barr advised that adults should always supervise children around fireworks.

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Injury isn’t the only thing that could ruin your Fourth of July weekend; a visit from police would do that too. Shooting fireworks is illegal in the city limits, so be sure to get outside the city if you will be hosting a celebration that involves firework festivities. For fireworks in the city, you can watch the city’s official fireworks celebration, which will begin at 8:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Monday July 4.

Michele Rushing, manager of Crazy Bill’s Fireworks on Elba Highway, said reading the warning labels and instructions will keep users safe.

“Fireworks aren’t dangerous,” she said. “The biggest thing is that people don’t use them properly. Read the labels, do what they say and you won’t get hurt.”

In addition to the warning labels on individual products, Crazy Bill’s has sheets available to customers that give nine rules to stay safe around fireworks.

• Obey your city or town ordinance on use of fireworks. As previously stated, this means that you should not shoot fireworks inside Troy city limits.

•  Always purchase high quality fireworks from reliable sources.

• Follow the instructions carefully and use common sense.

• Do not fire fireworks in glass or metal containers and do not experiment with homemade fireworks. One example that rushing gave was the “sparkler bomb” which is made by grouping a large amount of sparklers together to create an explosive.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person. Many people violate this rule by participating in bottle rocket wars, Rushing said.

• Never hold fireworks in your hand. Place them on the ground. Roman candles are often mishandled this way. Sparklers are an exception, but parents may want to consider modifying a plastic cup into a “sparkler shield” for younger children.

• Use fireworks outdoors only in a clear area away from houses and buildings.

• Light only one item at a time and move back quickly once the fuse is ignited. Keep all other fireworks a safe distance away from where they are being discharged.

• As previously mentioned, adults should supervise the firing of all fireworks.

The Alabama Forestry Commission also reminds everyone to observe fire safety precautions. Acting State Forester Dan Jackson encourages people to be cautious. “We certainly want folks to enjoy their Fourth of July holiday, but we ask that they use caution with outdoor fires such as grills, campfires, and fireworks,” said Jackson. “Wildfires do not discriminate; they do not stop at property boundaries. They can quickly spread out of control, threatening not only forestland, but lives and property as well.”

Forestry officials make the following recommendations. Avoid shooting fireworks in or near dry grass, leaves, or other combustible materials. Thoroughly soak the area with water where fireworks are to be discharged, and have a garden hose or other source of water nearby.

The same preventive measures apply when using charcoal grills. Do not dump hot coals in, near, or around dry grass, leaves, or other flammable materials. Do not bury hot coals. Allow briquettes to cool completely; or, soak with lots of water, stir them, and soak again, being sure they are cold to the touch. Never leave a grill unattended.

Finally, if a fire does start, it is strongly recommended that you not attempt to fight it yourself. Instead, call 911 immediately, then wait in a safe place for the arrival of the local fire department.

“We are asking the public to know the fire safety rules and help us protect our communities,” continued Jackson. “With the increased wildfire activity we’ve recently witnessed out West, Alabama has the potential to experience that same type disaster.”