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July Fourth fireworks safety

By Staff | Jun 30, 2016

With the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, Cape Coral residents may be considering their own fireworks to add a little boom to their holiday celebrations.

However, the Cape Coral Fire Department encourages the public to leave those explosions to the trained professionals and instead attend a public fireworks display, like Red, White & BOOM! Red, White & BOOM! will be held on Monday from 5 to 10 p.m. at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge.

“That is what we would prefer citizens to do because it is the safest option,” Andrea Schuch, spokeswoman for the Cape Coral Fire Department, said.

The National Fire Protection Association reported that in 2013, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 recorded fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires and 14,000 outside and other fires. They resulted in approximately 30 civilian injuries, along with $21 million in direct property damage.

In 2014, U.S. emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks-related injuries. The NFPA stated that 51 percent of the injuries were to the extremities and 38 percent were to the head.

The risk of fireworks injury is highest for young people ages 5-9, followed by children 10-19.

Still, for those who choose to light that wick, officials offered up some basic safety tips.

“Use common sense and follow a few safety rules, which will reduce the chances of you having an accident involving a firework,” Schuch said.

Purchase fireworks from a reliable and licensed vendor or dealer.

“The No. 1 thing we want to remind everybody is to never make your own fireworks,” she said.

“It is extremely dangerous,” Schuch added.

When using fireworks, use them properly and as instructed.

“For example, don’t shoot them at one another or use them as weapons,” she said.

Only light one firework at a time, and never stand directly over a firework when lighting it.

“When you are lighting a firework, do so in a clear area away from buildings and cars,” Schuch said.

Allow live fireworks and even “dud” fireworks – ones that do not go off after being lit – to cool down for 15 to 20 minutes before handling them. Place all dud fireworks into a bucket of water.

“If you light a firework and it doesn’t light or explode, don’t try to relight it,” she said.

Place fireworks on the group before lighting them.

“Don’t light them in your hand or on your head,” Schuch said.

She urged residents to avoid drinking alcohol while using fireworks.

“Consumer fireworks and alcohol don’t mix,” Schuch said.

Have an adequate water source readily available, like a bucket of water or garden hose. A fire extinguisher will also work. If the fire cannot be put out easily, contact 911 immediately.

“Don’t try to fight a fire that’s going quickly or is out of control,” she said. “The sooner we can get there, the sooner we can extinguish the fire before it gets too big.”

If there are children around, adult supervision is a must.

“Children, ideally, should not handle fireworks,” Schuch said.

She noted that glass melts at 900 degrees, while a typical sparkler burns at 1200 degrees.

Pet owners should keep in mind that the noise and excitement can be terrifying and overwhelming.

“More pets go missing on July 4 than any other day of the year,” Schuch said.

Keep pets indoors away from the explosions and action – even dogs.

“It can be very stressful for them being around so many people and, of course, all the noise with the fireworks,” she said.

Before the festivities begin, dogs should be walked and fed. During the celebration, they should be confined to a comfortable room in the house. Putting a TV or music on can help mask the fireworks.

For more information, visit the NFPA at: www.NFPA.org.