The first of the 4th of July festivities is only 2 days away in my area and will be continuing right up until the 4th in surrounding areas. You can bet I’ll be attending the small festivals, stuffing my face with some great summer fare and ending each night with a display of fireworks. This is one of my favorite times of the year. I love fireworks. The louder the better in my book. Most everyone gets into the swing of things with 4th of July parties and festivities. The nights are filled with loud booms and the sky lights up with bright colors until the wee hours.
When the excitement is in full swing, it’s easy to overlook happenings in the vicinity that might be safety hazards. About 4 years ago I had a rather substantial fire in my yard that spread up the hill and caught several large trees on fire. It was scary and the entire thing started with a colored novelty smoker. It was about the size of a golf ball. Once the little wick was lit, various colors of smoke filled the air. This one ended up being a dud and caught on fire. There had been no rain for several weeks and the grass had started turning brown. The grass on the hill was knee length. The hose was across the yard. It happened quickly. We had to call the fired department to put it out.
That entire incident could have been prevented if we had only brought the hose across the yard. However, we were having fun, family and friends were there and we overlooked it. This happens…a lot. Unfortunately, this is evident in the days to follow 4th of July festivities. We see it on the news and read it in the newspaper. Most of this could be prevented. Take a few minutes and make sure your 4th of July is safe. A few things to remember…
1. Don’t forget the garden hose. Whether you’re shooting off a $500 display in your yard or lighting sparklers, always have the garden hose nearby. Better yet, bring out the fire extinguisher. Nothing is guaranteed to work as it should. I didn’t expect for my little colored smoker to be a dud and catch on fire. It doesn’t matter if you spend $100 on something or $1…anything can go wrong and it’s usually a fire of some sort. If you don’t have a hose, make sure to have buckets of water or a kiddie pool laying around.
2. Check surrounding areas. If you’re lighting off fireworks in your yard, make sure the surrounding area is free of brush, dry grass, decorations, neighbors yards, and other fire hazards. Fireworks are meant to go up, but sometimes, that doesn’t always happen. I’ve seen fireworks go up a little ways, come back down and explode only feet before landing. I’ve also seen them backfire and shoot off in the wrong direction. I’ve seen novelty fireworks blow up. It happens.
3. Keep kids away from fireworks. This includes items like firecrackers, rockets and other small novelty items. I don’t need to go into detail about what happens when a child gets a hold of these and lights them. You’ve seen the outcome on the evening news at one point or another. Also, those $1 boxes of sparklers aren’t as harmless as you think. If you’re going to let the kids use these, make sure there is adult supervision. Sparklers have the potential to reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. That is hot enough to melt gold.
4. A dud is a dud. Do not try to relight it or pick it up after you’ve established there is something wrong with it. Duds are unpredictable. Throw a bucket of water on it or spray it with the hose.
5. Looks can be deceiving. After shooting off fireworks, do not handle them right away. Let them sit for about ten minutes and then dip them in a bucket of water before throwing them away.
6. Keep the pets safe. Pets can become very agitated with loud noises. Shelters and pounds see more stray animals around the 4th of July more than any other time throughout the year. When dogs are kept outdoors during 4th of July festivities, they try to escape the noise. Unfortunately, this means wandering off. Keep your pets safely inside and make sure that aren’t able to bolt out the door or have any escape routes out of the house or backyard. You can also ask your vet what you can give your pet to keep them calm during the festivities.
7. Make sure your fireworks are legal. The roads here are lined with vendors selling fireworks. If you’re choosing to purchase from them, make sure what you’re buying is legal. Legal fireworks will always have a label with the manufacturer’s name and directions. Illegal fireworks are usually unlabeled and are often called M-80, M100, blockbuster or quarter pounder. These fireworks were banned in the mid 60′s, but they are still sold. These fireworks are not safe and should never be purchased.
8. Booze & fireworks do not mix. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Most 4th of July parties include booze. We all know what happens when people have sipped a few too many adult beverages. Anyone at your party who has had too much to drink should not be the ones lighting off the fireworks. This is when most of the accidents happen. People get brave, stupid and ignore any type of common sense. This is a recipe for disaster.