Fireworks season is upon us, and Oklahomans are urged to celebrate, have loads of fun and most importantly, stay safe.
“Leave fireworks to the professionals,” advises Erica Rankin-Riley, the public information officer for the Office of Communications at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by attending one of the professional displays around the state.”
The OSDH realizes that, for many people, setting off fireworks yourself is part of the annual tradition. If you fall into this category, Rankin-Riley has some safety tips for you.
“Ensure fireworks are legal in your area,” she says. “Never use homemade fireworks; only purchase fireworks labeled for consumer use – not for professional use.”
• Never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
• Never hold lit fireworks in your hand;
• Never point or throw fireworks, including sparklers, at another person;
• Only light one device at a time and point it away from people, homes or other structures;
• Never light devices inside a container, indoors, or outdoors near dry grass, brush, leaves or flammable materials;
• Move back quickly and maintain a safe distance after lighting fireworks.
“Always have a bucket of water, garden hose, and/or a fire extinguisher nearby,” adds Rankin-Riley. “Know how to use the fire extinguisher properly. Soak used fireworks in water before discarding them to avoid a trash fire.”
She also recommends not wearing loose clothing while using fireworks.
“Wear protective eyewear when using fireworks or standing near the shooting area,” she says. “If an eye injury occurs, do not touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, use hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs.”
A few simple steps prior to any celebration can lessen the chance of injury to children.
“Never let children ignite, use or play with fireworks,” she says. “And avoid sparklers.”
While sparklers are often thought by parents to be relatively harmless, the opposite is true: Sparklers are the leading cause of fireworks-related injuries.
“Sparklers can burn at a temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt metals,” she says. “Children’s arms are not long enough to hold sparklers at a safe distance from their face and body. Sparklers can easily ignite clothing.”
Keep children safe by providing alternatives to sparklers such as colored streamers, confetti poppers and glow sticks.
“Children and young adults comprise the majority of victims injured by fireworks,” she says.
The Fourth of July can often be a highly stressful time for animals. Make sure you’re taking precautions to help them feel secure. If you aren’t sure where to start, we offer a few ideas:
• Understand your pets and their tolerance to loud noise;
• Ask your vet for anti-anxiety medication if you know from past experiences that your animal will negatively react to the loud noises;
• Purchase an anxiety vest for your pet;
• Keep pets on a leash if they are outside, or use a crate/ safe room to keep your pet contained during a display – they may run out of fear or confusion if left unattended;
• Never leave your pet in a parked vehicle during a Fourth of July celebration – even for a few minutes;
• Avoid taking your pets to fireworks displays at all.