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Environmental Health

Don't let accidents skyrocket this Fourth of July

Don't let accidents skyrocket this Fourth of July

Jun. 30, 2022

By Mary Wade Burnside

The Fourth of July weekend is a time to gather together, play, grill out, have fun and watch fireworks. For many, it’s a highlight of summer.

Fireworks help make the Fourth of July special. However, when it comes to individuals putting them off in their neighborhoods, they can be a delight to those using them but a nuisance to others and their pets. They also can harm people, start fires and even cause death.

According to the National Safety Council, in 2017, eight people died and more than 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. Of these, 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under age 20. More than two-thirds (67%) of injuries took place from June 16 to July 16.

Also, according to the NSC, fireworks typically start 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires.

Here are tips to follow when using fireworks:

  • Never use illegal fireworks.
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands.
  • Never light them indoors.
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
  • Never ignite devices in a container.
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire.

So what are illegal fireworks in the city of Morgantown? You can access this information in the city code on Morgantown’s website, Hover over the “Government” heading, click on “City Code” and then search for fireworks, under section 545.10. You can also click here to view this information.

Also keep in mind that the noise ordinance for the city begins at 10 p.m. While it’s not unexpected that some fireworks will still be popping in Morgantown neighborhoods after that time, keep in mind that your neighbors probably don’t want to hear loud crackling noises outside their bedrooms at, say, 12:45 on a Tuesday morning.

Fireworks also impact pets, especially dogs, cats and horses. Fireworks can frighten them and if they escape from their homes, it’s not a good night to be out and about. If your pet or pets get scared when the fireworks start flying, it’s recommended to check with your veterinarian well before the holiday to get their help with behavioral therapy or medication that can calm them down.

In the meantime, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that dogs and cats wear collars and that their owners get them microchipped. Also, have current photos of your pets just in case. 

Be sure they are safely enclosed if you have guests over and keep them away from any fireworks and grills.

In addition to firework safety, preparedness is another topic important on the Fourth of July. There are several obvious reasons for that -- a fully-stocked first aid kit is handy to have for minor fireworks injuries, falls, bicycle crashes, etc. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that barbecue season also makes it easier to get out and meet your neighbors. Knowing the people who live close to you can be vital not only during a disaster that may or may not occur, but also during a routine power outage. 

And when you know your neighbors, it might make it easier to talk to them if their fireworks are impeding your peace and feeling of safety.​

Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.





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