Keep safety in mind with fireworks

By Andrew Wigger - awigger@newberryobserver.com
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NEWBERRY COUNTY — Fourth of July is less than a week away, and many people will be celebrating the holiday by watching fireworks, either by going to a show or firing them off at home. For those shooting them off at home, City of Newberry Fire Chief Keith Minick reminds you to always keep safety in mind.

“We recommend the community follow the manufacturer’s recommendation of the product. We certainly don’t want them to shoot in the direction of a crowd or other structures. Be cautious of the area around you, make sure the vegetation around them is not dry to start any fires. Those who shoot fireworks on their own need to have water supply nearby to extinguish small fires, whether that’s a garden hose or a couple small buckets of water,” he said.

There are several potential dangers to shooting fireworks off at home, according to Minick.

“In the city limits you have a noise ordinance, you have neighbors, houses that are close by, and you have animals and pets that are a concern. You need to make sure not only your pets, but your neighbor’s pets are aware because they do disturb the animals and cause problems. Controlling where they go and end up, making sure they have a good, hard, flat surface they can shoot fireworks from, that they’re going up in the air and not off to the side into a neighbors’ yard, etc. There is a lot of danger involved because it is a fire basically and fireworks can start fires at a moment’s notice especially as dry as it is,” he said.

Chief Roy McClurkin added that when it comes to the City’s noise ordinance, it is complaint driven, and they allow residents to shoot fireworks until a complaint is received, at which point you’ll be asked to stop.

“We ask that you be mindful of your neighbors, and not shoot them late. If you are going to shoot off fireworks, try to shoot early,” he said.

In the past, Minick said they have been fortunate and have had low calls due to fireworks, especially in the city. However, they have received calls on grass fires and several years ago they had a bottle rocket go under a home where it could have turned into a structure fire, but it was maintained.

“People in my opinion seem to be very careful, seem to be going to fireworks shows with family, such as the county law enforcement show or the Dreher Island fireworks show and watching the professionals. You see a lot of people buying them, but we’ve been fortunate to not have many calls in the past and I hope we can continue to keep that safety going for our community,” Minick said.

Minick also recommends some general safety tips. For example, don’t try and relight a firework that is considered a dud, if it doesn’t go off the first time.

“Sparklers are always a big hit for kids and one of the biggest concerns we have is that as small as they are, sparklers produce heat up to 1200 degrees when lit, which can cause significant harm to the body if they come in contact. When using sparklers beware of loose clothing or hair or people waving them around, being close to a crowd or any type flammable object -pine straw, grass, etc. You have seen kids with two or three sparklers in hand at a time, but you should limit to one sparkler at a time so that they can concentrate on the use of that one,” he said.

When it comes to shooting Minick recommends that only adults handle them. He said you want to make sure someone understands and knows how dangerous these can be, and how to be safe.

Minick also wants residents to understand the type of fireworks you buy.

“Be sure that you buy at a reputable place that is licensed and regulated by the state. This way you know you’re not buying some after-market fireworks and they’re legitimate to use. Be aware that fireworks for displays/shows/events require permits and usually are regulated on the state level. If you’re considering a large display for example for your neighborhood, you could be getting into what could be considered a commercial firework display and you’ll want to make sure you’re licensed and regulated with proper permitting,” he said.

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By Andrew Wigger

awigger@newberryobserver.com

Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.

Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.