It is nearing the 4th of July holiday and safety is of the utmost importance for those planning to celebrate with their own fireworks display, Crawford County officials said.
When holding a personal fireworks display, it is important to be aware of the surroundings, said Brad Thomas, Crawford County emergency management director and fire service coordinator.
“You don’t want to be the cause of property damage or injury to others,” Thomas said. “Stay away from buildings, cars and other people.”
In 2015, 11 people died and about 11,500 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
While a majority of these incidents were because of amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, thousands were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers, according to the National Safety Council.
“Dry weather also is going to come into play,” Thomas said. “We’ve been lucky so far; it hasn’t been too dry. But a burn ban could be put into effect, and some parts of the county may be dryer than others. That’s just something to be aware of.”
Fireworks are responsible for thousands of fires each year, according to the NSC. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2013, fireworks caused about 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires and 14,000 other fires.
“If you even think it’s possible that you could start some kind of fire, think twice about shooting off your fireworks,” Thomas said.
Pet safety also is something important to keep in mind during this time of year, said Connie Martin with the Almost Home dog shelter.
“As the Fourth of July nears, it is important to remember that the sound of fireworks frightens most dogs,” Martin said. “Many dogs are frightened and run from the noise. Please keep your dog inside where they will be safe during this time.”
While Crawford County has no restrictions on private use of fireworks unless a burn ban is in effect, several cities in the county prohibit use.
Cities that do not allow individual use of fireworks of any kind without special permission are Van Buren, Alma, Mountainburg and Dyer.
Mulberry allows fireworks to be used between the dates of June 20 and July 10, and Dec. 10 and Jan. 5, and all fireworks must be ceased by 10 p.m.
Kibler has no restriction on fireworks, but it does have a sound ordiance that goes into effect at 10 p.m.
Fireworks are not allowed on national forest lands nor in Arkansas state parks.
Safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety: Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
FAA regulations prohibit the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
Regarding pets: Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
Never shoot fireworks of any kind near pets.