Happy July — no, not just 4th of July, because the whole month is basically a free-for-all when it comes to fireworks in Utah, thanks to the festivities being extended by Pioneer Day. But even though we have leftover fireworks from the 4th and the fireworks booths stick around for the next couple weeks in various parking lots throughout the county, it shouldn’t be a free-for-all.
Fireworks safety warnings and alerts on possible dangers should be intuitive to us all, right? Not quite, as evidenced by thousands of fireworks-related injuries and accidental fires each year across the U.S., not to mention the warning cries trumpeted every July from safety officials, government officials and medical professionals.
The Herald editorial board feels that even though the topic is not new by any means, safety warnings regarding fireworks cannot be voiced enough, especially in Utah.
Fireworks are supposed to be a way of celebrating freedom — but if handled improperly, they can take away your own or someone else’s freedom, in a way. Just last year, Pleasant Grove residents experienced an unfortunate house fire resulting in what fire crews called very significant damage. The cause? You guessed it. Authorities believe the fire started from used fireworks left in a garbage can from a neighborhood fireworks show earlier that evening. The family was displaced for a long while.
This is just one of many examples of unfortunate consequences from not taking fireworks safety precautions seriously enough. But it’s not just homes that are at risk. Acres and acres of Utah land are vulnerable to wildfires in our extremely dry, hot climate during the summer. (And don’t let our recent wet spring lull you into a false sense of security — we’re still the third driest state in the country).
Just last year, the Dollar Ridge Fire and the Pole Creek Fire burned 68,869 and 98,642 acres respectively. And though Pole Creek was reportedly started by lightning and Dollar Ridge was only reported as human-caused without more detail, our state’s recent wildfire history is evidence enough of how quickly a fire can get out of control in our area. With so much damage caused last summer by Dollar Ridge and Pole Creek, fire safety should still be heavily on every Utah County citizen’s mind.
While some would say consumer fireworks should be banned altogether, and others would argue that it’s their right as an American to put on a light and sound show in their cul-de-sac, we should all be able to agree on one thing — nobody wants a burned down home or a trip to the emergency room’s burn unit or the responsibility of starting Utah’s next raging wildfire.
Please, please, please consider the following when using consumer fireworks:
- Only discharge fireworks within the
- legal time windows for the state
- (this is law, people!).
- Do not discharge fireworks in
- restricted areas
- (you could be fined up to $1,000 if caught outside authorized zones).
- Keep a bucket of water/hose nearby and ready at all times.
- Never let kids to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Don’t let kids play with sparklers unattended.
- Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks, and make sure all children and pets are secured from getting near.
- Never point or throw fireworks at someone.
- Light fireworks one at a time.
- After fireworks are done burning, douse with plenty of water before discarding.
To see the full list of safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, go to http://cpsc.gov.