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Celebrating July 4th Safely: Tips To Protect Everyone

The Harrodsburg Herald/Robert Moore
Children climb high to enjoy the firework show at Daynabrook Farms on Monday, June 26.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

It’s obvious Mercer County loves Independence Day, we’ve been celebrating more than a week already and there’s still about a week to go before the holiday. Many of us are holding off until the big day itself, and with that in mind, we’re passing along these safety tips to light up for the Fourth of July, not just for you and your kids, but also for your pets.

First, here’s a reminder that a new Mercer County ordinance prohibits fireworks from midnight until 9 a.m. Anyone who violates the provision faces a $100 fine. On their Facebook page, the county is reminding the public to be mindful of your neighbors. Please notify surrounding neighbors if you plan to display aerial fireworks, so they can plan accordingly for pets or farm animals that may react to displays.

Firework safety is important. Between 2006 and 2021, there was a 25 percent increase in firework injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). First, let’s take a look at one firework that many people take for granted.

Many folks think sparklers are safe for small children because they don’t explode, but a sparkler can burn at temperatures close to 2,000 degrees, as hot as a blowtorch, according to the CPSC. In 2021, there were an estimated 1,500 emergency room visits involving injuries requiring treatment at local emergency departments involving firecrackers, and 1,100 injuries involving sparklers. The parts of the body most often injured? The hands and fingers, which accounted for 31 percent of injuries, followed by the head, face and ears, which accounted for 21 percent. Here are some sparkler safety tips courtesy of the American Pyrotechnics Safety and Education Foundation.

• Adult supervision for children under the age of 12. There are a lot of great alternatives for younger children, including glow sticks, confetti, balloons, silly string, bubbles and laser lights.

• Only use sparklers outdoors.

• Avoid loose fitting apparel—sparklers can ignite fabric and clothes could catch fire.

• Never light or hold more than one sparkler at a time.

• Always keep sparklers at arm’s length away from the body.

• Stand at least six feet away from other people with sparklers.

• Don’t run, throw or hand a lit sparkler to someone else.

• Wear closed-toe shots to prevent accidental foot burns.

• Douse spent sparklers in a bucket of water, the fire or bamboo sticks stay hot even after the sparkler seems extinguished.

• After the sparklers have cooled, dispose of the sticks in a plastic waste bin. Stepping on used sparklers can cause foot injuries.

General Firework Safety
Here are some general fireworks safety tips, courtesy of the CPSC.

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. .

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.

• Light fireworks one at a time, then move quickly away from the fireworks device.

• Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

• Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.

• After fireworks finish burning, to prevent a trash fire, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device.

• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.

• Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Pet Safety
While most people love fireworks, most animals do not. Frightened by the noise and lights, many pets run away. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation recommends pets—cats and dos—have identification tags with up-to-date information. If you have horses, you might consider marking a safety (breakaway) halter with your contact information and leaving it on your horse during this stressful time. The foundation also recommends getting pets micro-chipped, which can be done by your veterinarian. If your pets are already micro-chipped, make sure the contact information in the microchip registry is current. Pet owners should also take a current photo of all of their cats, dogs and horses just in case. Here are some more tips on keeping your pets safe during July 4 celebrations courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

• Leave your pets at home if you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away.

• Consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks. If you choose this option, please make sure it’s as safe from the light and noise as you can manage.

• Keep horses and livestock in safely fenced areas and as far from the excitement and noise as possible.

• If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.

• Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.

• Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets.

• Don’t let pets get near your barbecue grill while it is in use or still hot.

• Remember that too much sun, heat and humidity can be just as dangerous to your pets as it is to you. Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot and humid. Make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water when outdoors. Don’t leave them outside for extended periods in hot weather and know the signs that a pet may be overheating.

• If you’re travelling out of town for the holiday, consider leaving your pets at home with a pet sitter or boarding them in a kennel. If you need to bring them with you, be sure you know how to keep them safe.

• After the celebrations, check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat. Horse owners should check pastures and remove debris to protect horses and livestock.

• If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets, such as food skewers.

Happy Independence Day from the Harrodsburg Herald.

1 Comment

  1. Celeste Marshall on June 30, 2023 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you for bringing attention to the difficulties some pet and horse owners experience due to fireworks throughout the month of July. Also, there could be a local population of veterans that could have PTSD setbacks due to the explosives.

    A friendly notice to your neighbors will be very appreciated if you are planning backyard fireworks.

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