By Sarah Naron
HOUSTON COUNTY – Welcoming the New Year by setting off fireworks is an annual tradition for many people. The Houston County Office of Emergency Management (HCOEM) and Fire Marshall is reminding local residents of things to keep in mind to ensure a safe and happy celebration for all who are partaking.
“In addition to these safety tips, keep in mind our vegetation is dead, so it is easily ignited,” encouraged a statement released by the Houston County Fire Marshall Roger Dickey. “We sometimes fail to realize how quickly fire can spread in this type vegetation, so use extreme caution and pre-plan a safe area to discharge your fireworks.”
According to the news release, examples of safe areas to carry out fireworks displays include areas where vegetation is short, plowed fields, or locations in which the fireworks will be launching over water.
Fireworks should only be used in outdoor areas which provide a safe distance from buildings and vehicles. A bucket of water and water hose should be kept within reach at all times.
Before igniting any fireworks, the person handling them should thoroughly read all cautionary labels and performance descriptions included on the packaging. Fireworks should only be handled by a sober, responsible adult, and eye protection is recommended while lighting.
Multiple fireworks should not be lit at the same time. After igniting one fuse, the person handling the fireworks should quickly move away.
If a firework is a “dud,” it should not be relit. After a period of 20 minutes, it should be soaked in a bucket of water.
Fireworks should never be carried in a person’s pocket or launched into glass or metal containers. The office advises against experimentation involving homemade fireworks. Illegal explosives such as quarter sticks and M-80s should be promptly reported to the local fire or police department.
Spent fireworks should be soaked with water prior to being disposed of in a metal trash can. The can should be kept away from any combustible materials, buildings and vehicles until the next day.
The HCOEM office also encouraged pet owners to think about their four-legged friends in the midst of the festivities.
Fireworks of any kind, including small items such as sparklers, should not be used around pets. Even small fireworks displays should not be attended by animals.
If possible, pets should be kept in interior rooms for the duration of nearby fireworks displays to lessen their exposure to the loud noises. In the event that the animal(s) must remain outside, proper identification tags should be in place in case the pet becomes fearful and runs away.
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.